Parking Madness: Federal Way vs. Montreal

We’re just getting started with Parking Madness 2016 — our annual hunt for North America’s worst parking craters. So far, Washington, D.C., and Rutland, Vermont, have advanced to the second round.

Today’s matchup pits the Seattle suburb of Federal Way against the pride of Quebec — Montreal. It’s the second Canadian parking crater in this year’s competition, reminding us that the United States doesn’t hold a monopoly on hideous parking scars.

Federal Way

Federal Way is a city of 92,000 located along the highway between Seattle and Tacoma. An anonymous reader sent this satellite image with orange outlines denoting surface parking. The red outline marks the Federal Way Transit Center, a hub for buses bound for Seattle and Tacoma. A 7.8-mile light rail extension from Seattle is slated to serve this area, which is barely more than a collection of surface parking lots.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s the abundance of opportunities for transit-oriented development near the future light rail station. But you could easily end up with a much worse scenario in which the parking crater survives as a gigantic park-and-ride lot.


Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.19.58 PM

Submitted by Felix Gravel, this is the area around the city’s main intercity and commuter rail station. Surface parking lots are in red.

According to Wikipedia, the station serves 18 million passengers a year. Way to welcome them to the city!

Which parking crater is worse? Vote below.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Federal Way (67%, 155 Votes)
  • Montreal (33%, 76 Votes)

Total Voters: 231


24 thoughts on Parking Madness: Federal Way vs. Montreal

  1. I think Montreal’s is way worse (downtown, transit adjacent), but it’s rapidly giving way to new construction, so the crater may not exist in a few more years.

  2. Under all of this in Montreal is Autoroute Ville-Marie. You can see a few of the on-ramps sticking out. Even a well capped freeway can have significant anti-urban effects, both by leaving large areas of undevelopable land dumping traffic.

  3. We need some current reconnaissance. Can someone send Google’s satellite over so we have accurate info? 🙂

  4. Ftr, the parking lot tagged red in the lower right corner of the photo is a multi-story parking structure above the Central Train Station. Not a crater.

  5. The expressway (Autoroute Bonaventure), with the additional road on top of it (and on both sides of it further south) gives Montreal that extra edge in awfulness. The walkshed south of Central Station is ruined.

    Try going east on Rue Ottawa from Rue Ann to Rue Duke. Road, parking, road, parking, railway overpass, parking, another road, expressway overpass with parking, another road. It’s 212 metres of nothing but cars all around you. I bet nobody walks there.

  6. Autoroute Bonaventure would have to be sunk, closed, or capped in order to really eliminate the crater.

  7. Judging by Google Earth, Federal Way looks like it consists almost entirely of cul de sac developments and giant parking lots. They get my vote.

  8. I have to vote for Federal Way. At least in Montreal, if you wanted to walk you could. In Federal Way walking that area would be hell.

  9. Federal Way is a no-brainer. They would need to blow up the whole place and start over to be only twice as bad as Montreal.

  10. Every one of those surface lots in Montreal is fast becoming a condo – the entire area is currently awash in cranes and construction hoarding. This isn’t even close.

    It’s nice that Streetsblog is now covering Canadian cities, but putting downtown Montreal and Vancouver in this competition is silly, unless you are using a time machine to go back to the 1970s. (Toronto would have cleaned up back then, but good luck finding a surface lot downtown now after 20 years of nonstop condo development). Big Canadian cities are generally the poster children for higher transit modal share, underground parking and livable city centers. That’s not to say there are not many examples of parking craters in Canada, but the suburbs and northern, smaller cities would be better examples.

  11. But isn’t Autoroute Bonaventure in this area being completely removed and rebuilt as an urban boulevard, similar to NYC’s former West Side Highway?

    Looks like they are well on their way to making big improvements here.

  12. The condo boom in Montreal is nothing like Vancouver/Toronto. The island of Montreal has actually been losing population and hollowing out to the suburbs. Montreal has made way more urban planning mistakes than other large Canadian cities when it comes to highway construction, and transit mode share is high but is stagnant/dropping. Montreal should win this round, a huge, dense, historical chunk of the city was flattened and turned into parking for those lots and for the Bonaventure expressway, which makes it much sadder.

  13. Looking at the satellite view of Federal Way is very depressing. The crater photo seems to capture the entirety of the city’s business district. It’s a giant parking crater surrounded by cul-de-sacs. yikes

  14. Hooo boy, Federal Way.. wow. I would love to see the parking requirements for commercial developments in their code. Ugh.

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