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How is Expedia impacting Seattle commute?

Expedia's new Seattle campus. (KIRO 7)

Coming out of the Thanksgiving break, I think it’s time to answer a few short questions from my 97.3 KIRO FM listeners.

Jill Jones hit me via email, asking about the new congestion being caused by the Expedia campus just south of Interbay. As we’ve reported before, Expedia is in the process of moving about 4,500 employees from Bellevue to Seattle. All of them should be in place by about February 2020.

Jill wrote, “Sully, we need help with the Expedia Mess on 15th. I live in Magnolia and traffic is getting backed up to the top of the bridge trying to get on 15th.” She continued, “Why did the city allow Expedia to build a transit station off of 15th — that was already a mess. Why aren’t the buses using the campus road?”

The plan was for the Expedia shuttle service and those employees using buses to all get off at that new transit center so they could walk across the pedestrian bridge over the rail road tracks, eliminating pedestrians crossing 15th. I checked with the City of Seattle about changes it has seen. Unfortunately, it does not have traffic counters on 15th Avenue West, but the anecdotal evidence shows an increase in congestion around Expedia.

Traffic patterns begin to emerge with tolling in SR 99 tunnel

That said, the city isn’t sure if that’s because of Expedia or more people using 15th to avoid the new 99 corridor. Before tunnel tolling started, the city said it hadn’t noticed much of an issue. The traffic signals have been changed near the Expedia campus, in most cases allowing more time for pedestrian crossing, and to help with the transit center crowding.

Expect a moving target on congestion in this spot as more employees move in and as drivers continue to divert from the tunnel.

The next topic comes from Thorsten, who drives near Highway 18 and Issaquah-Hobart Road. He wrote, “Over the past year or so I have noticed a drastic change in the light timing on the traffic light which is at the Eastbound Highway 18 exit onto the Issaquah Hobart Road. This light timing change is also causing massive backups for the local traffic which only option is to use this road for north and southbound travel.”

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The Washington Department of Transportation said it did tweak the signal timing over the summer, and it had a good reason for it. There is a lot more traffic on Highway 18, especially in the morning, and the state did not want cars backing up onto the highway. It changed the signal timing to allow more cars exiting Highway 18 to Issaquah-Hobart Road as a safety issue and as a release valve. The state said it hasn’t noticed any significant problems, other than impatient drivers blowing through the red lights.

If you have traffic or transportation-related questions, leave a comment below or @kirotraffic on Twitter.

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