Seattle bracing for thousands of Expedia workers headed to Interbay
What happens to congestion when a company with few hundred employees is replaced by a company with over 4,000? We’re going to find out over the next six months as Expedia moves into it’s new campus just south of Interbay.
Hundreds of Expedia employees are going to start moving into the old Amgen property along Elliott Avenue this fall. By February, the campus will house nearly 4,500 employees. That’s a lot of new people crowding the roads and a primary commuting route into and out of downtown. Nearly 38,000 vehicles a day use Elliott Avenue.
“Any time you are going to bring 4,000 or 5,000 or however many new commuters into town, we want to make sure that those developments understand what impacts they are going to make to the system,” said Seattle’s director of mobility Heather Marx.
The Expedia Group has taken that responsibility to heart, and it plans to have as little of an impact on the commute as possible. The plans include a program called “Commute Cash,” where employees are paid to leave their cars at home.
“If you take an eligible form of transportation to or from work, we’ll pay you $5 every day that you do that, as an incentive to take cars off the roadways,” said Expedia Group’s Josh deBerge.
If you drive your car solo to work at Expedia, you will pay $16 a day — another disincentive to drive. Expedia Group is also subsidizing employees who use a ride-sharing app called SCOOP. The app allows employees to pick up co-workers along the way. Their parking will be free for carpooling.
Marx wishes other big companies would follow this example.
“Any of those kind of incentives that create the economic conditions where somebody might choose to not drive a single occupancy vehicle into town, I am all over that,” she said. “It leaves more room for the folks who don’t have as much of a choice.”
The Expedia Group is also building a transportation hub on Elliott Avenue to handle all shuttle riders. They will then walk the pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks onto the campus.
“We believe that about 30 percent of our employees will be taking public transportation or alternative modes of transportation,” deBerge said. “That takes a lot of folks off of our roads.”
Right now, only 39 percent of the Expedia Group’s employees drive to work solo to their current home in Bellevue.
Marx said the company also paid millions of dollars to tweak the signals along Elliott Avenue to help manage the congestion.
“This is going to use real-time traffic data, so it will pay attention to how many cars and buses are coming through a certain intersection to adapt those signals to that flow,” Marx said.
The campus also has 400 bike stalls and shower facilities for bicycle commuters.
One of the best features of the new campus is the expansion of the green space along the waterfront. It includes a new bike trail, walking trail, and areas where the public can enjoy great views of the downtown Seattle waterfront.
All these plans to mitigate the impact of a giant company moving into the neighborhood sound great on paper. Will they help reduce the impact of a major new business hub in the neighborhood?
We’ll find out.