Microsoft Is Looking for More Elbow Room

Microsoft Is Looking for More Elbow Room - New York Times

It's not exactly clear how this compares to Harvard's plans for Allston, but it is interesting to see how Microsoft is planning to enlarge its campus.

"It will spend $1 billion to expand that campus by more than a third, or 3.1 million square feet, over the next three years.

But some local residents do not applaud Microsoft's expansion. For them, it means increased traffic, higher home prices and crowded parks. Roads are clogged and median housing prices on the Eastside, the area east of Lake Washington where Redmond is located, have soared 17 percent.

Transportation has become the largest issue for the growing region. And for its part, Microsoft has vowed to spend $35 million on transportation improvements in Redmond, including an overpass over Route 520 near its campus, sewer upgrades and turn lanes on nearby roads.

But even a sizable cash infusion would merely be a temporary solution to a problem that has been steadily worsening for years. The area's roads and bridges, some of which are earthquake hazards, already struggle to handle the company's 30,000 employees. The Route 520 bridge, which crosses Lake Washington and connects Seattle to Redmond, was built in 1963 to handle 15,000 vehicles a day. Now, 115,000 vehicles cross it daily. Increased traffic, windstorms, earthquakes and boating and traffic accidents have further shortened the bridge's life and required extensive repairs. State officials worry a strong windstorm or earthquake could damage the bridge beyond repair.

Privately, Microsoft officials bristle at the notion that the transportation burden is theirs. But Microsoft's size makes it a convenient target for complaint among Redmond residents.

"Almost immediately after Microsoft began expanding in the late 1990's, the traffic in our neighborhood just went nuts," Mr. Bittner said. "That makes me not too excited about this expansion.""

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