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Lansing Is Your 2018 Parking Madness Champion!

3:43 PM CDT on April 20, 2018

In the last few weeks we've gotten to know 16 ugly asphalt wastelands overrun by surface parking. But only one city (per year) can emerge victorious from the Parking Madness bracket and win the Golden Crater™. Our readers have spoken, and this year that city is Lansing, Michigan.

The state government complex in downtown Lansing beat out the area around the Long Island Railroad station in Hicksville, New York, to claim the championship.

Congrats, sort of, to Lansing -- it's a deserving winner!

In the true spirit of Parking Madness, Lansing's parking crater stretches out for acres in the middle of town. While there's a healthier downtown area east of the state capitol, make no mistake: This is a large, center city employment cluster where surface parking has metastasized to an outrageous extent.

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The parking crater complex is home to the state capitol and various appendages of state government, including Michigan DOT headquarters.

Commenting on the championship match, reader Nick Helmholdt told us he used to have a state job and commute to this very crater. The parking situation is even more extreme than the satellite view lets on, he says, because below the surface are fields of underground parking. It's a different story for bike parking though: Helmholdt often commuted by bicycle, but there were no bike racks, so he had to lock up to a hand rail.

The real estate market is soft around the state office complex, and these parking lots won't get redeveloped with the wave of a hand. Helmholdt says the urban design in this area is basically set up to suffocate street life:

It would take a lot more than simply redeveloping underutilized asphalt to make this portion of Lansing an attractive investment. Many of the State's office buildings in this area have terrible street frontages. My colleagues joked that the architectural style of our building was "neo-penal". Large portions of the office complex are grade separated from the street. (You never have to cross a street at grade along the half-mile path between the Hall of Justice and the State Capitol.)

Interesting backstory: We actually received two parking crater nominations in Lansing this year. The other was by the riverfront and could have gone far.

We've been contacted by the Lansing State Journal about the competition and look forward to the local coverage of Lansing's victory.

Last year's winner -- Denver -- is making moves to redevelop its parking crater. Maybe Lansing will take steps to end the parking madness and make the area around Michigan's seat of government more hospitable for human beings.

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