Parking Madness: Greenville vs. Portland

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Today’s match brings us halfway through the first round of Parking Madness, our annual tournament where the nation’s ugliest urban parking expanses vie for the Golden Crater.

Parking moonscapes in Houston and Lansing have secured spots in the second round so far. Voting is still open in yesterday’s match between Providence and Surrey.

Up next is a contest between two smaller cities with downtowns that suffer from a deficit of “town” and an oversupply of asphalt. It’s Greenville, North Carolina vs. Portland, Maine.

Greenville

greenville crater

An anonymous reader sent in this vista of the Uptown District in Greenville, North Carolina. It’s the restaurant and entertainment destination in a college town with amount 90,000 full-time residents, and it is heavily paved:

Look carefully and you’ll notice that half of Greenville, NC’s downtown is parking and/or vehicular right-of-way. With a campus of 30,000 immediately adjacent (you can see buildings in the lower right portion of the picture), there’s almost a complete lack of bike racks. Amazing, the four city-block surface parking lot is reserved for university students, while the garage and two city-block surface lot immediately across the street is for city government staff. Eight city blocks, six parking lots and a parking garage. Crater status confirmed.

Portland

portland crater

A reader who asked to be identified just as “Thomas” nominated the waterfront area in downtown Portland, Maine. He notes the classic parking crater pathology — there is never “enough” parking:

The city recently conducted a parking study that measured the existing parking supply, I was blown away to learn that Portland’s CBD has a similar percentage of land area devoted to parking to Dallas, TX!

And yet the common refrain: “There’s nowhere to park”!

That parking study counted about 16,000 parking spaces in Portland’s center city. (Only 66,000 people live in the whole city city of Portland.) Nevertheless, in addition to pointing out a few ways to shift trips away from personal cars, one of the consultants’ recommendations was to build another garage.

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