A bridge to Xbox: Microsoft to fund $33M project connecting employees to light rail

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Rendering of the proposed pedestrian and bicycle bridge that would connect the west side of Microsoft’s campus the expanded Overlake Transit Center and light rail station. (Credit: Sound Transit)

Microsoft will pay more than $33 million to fund a project that includes a pedestrian and bicycle bridge across state Route 520. The bridge will connect the west side of Microsoft’s campus — home to the company’s Xbox and devices businesses — to a future light rail station at the Overlake Transit Center on the east side of the highway.

It would be the largest amount ever spent by the company on a single transportation project, according to a report overnight by the Seattle Times. A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the details of the plan this morning.

The new bridge would open in 2020, three years before Sound Transit is slated to bring light rail to the Overlake Transit Center. It would give employees on bikes and foot direct access to the transit center without needing to navigate the crosswalks across the roadways at the existing overpass just north of the transit center.

It’s the latest in a series of steps by the company to link the original east side of its campus — which includes the offices of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other top execs — with new development on the west side of the highway. A few years ago, Microsoft funded half the cost of a $36.5 million car and pedestrian bridge across 520 to the south of the newly planned bridge, with federal stimulus dollars also contributing to that project.

Here’s a Sound Transit map showing the location and general outline of the planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge bridge to the transit center. (Click for larger image.)

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  • Guest

    As commendable as this may seem, I’m concerned about the impact to Microsoft’s finances. Couldn’t the taxpayers of Redmond fund this just as they do all roads in their town?

    • tsupasat

      $33 million seems like a lot to you and me. But Microsoft brings in *billions* of dollars every quarter thanks to its employees getting to work quickly and efficiently.

      • Guest

        It doesn’t seem like a lot to me. According to Google, 56,561 people live in Redmond. That’s only $583.440886830148 per resident to build this bridge, or $1.598468183096296 per resident per day for one year — and this bridge will last for at least 4 years. Consider how much you spend on coffee each day — could you spend $1.598468183096296 of that on basic infrastructure to help the men and women who’ve built Redmond’s industry?

    • nope

      Are you f-ing kidding? We could have had 10 times the transit system we do now, and had it years ago, if these companies paid their fair share in taxes.

      • Guest

        Who sets and collects the taxes?

        Oh, right. The men who run our government who won’t even build a bridge!

        Hey, George Redmond or whoever runs that town! Get some money in so you can build some roads.

    • Out For Justice

      Who will pay for the decreases in home values in Redmond due to over building based on Microsoft’s badgering the city (build, build, build)… Oh, I think that Microsoft owes a lot more then this minor bridge payment to the residents of Redmond.

      • Guest

        Obviously you didn’t grown up in the area before Redmond turned into MSFT town. I remember the dairy farms. The only reason Redmond is on the map and home values are what they are is because MSFT decided to plant home base there. If you’re worried about MSFT paying their fair share for home values, uhhh…ya, you’re going to have a long battle proving home values decreased due to MSFT doing things in Redmond. What will make home values in Redmond tank is if MSFT goes the way of Sun Microsystems or decides to move out of Redmond (which won’t happen). There are a few things that run Redmond. MSFT, Overlake Christian Church, Washington Cathedral and some aerospace companies that nobody seems to know exist but rake in crazy federal contract dollars.

        That said, if MSFT wants this stuff to help their bottom line and make life easier for their employees, they can pay for it. $33M is a drop in the bucket for them. They saved that already with the federally subsidized electric power (cheapest in the country) that they use to power their data center in Quincy, WA.

        • Out For Justice

          Obviously I did grow up here and you did not. You use to be able to tell which side of the MSFT campus was Redmond and which side was Bellevue because the Bellevue side had three story buildings and the Redmond side did not.

          Take a trip to downtown Redmond today. The City is growing out of control. There are huge condo complexes that are only fractionally occupied. Why?, because of the idiocracy of the City planners and the influence of MSFT.

          And, a farm house which is Redmond close to Seattle is worth a whole lot more then a bunch of vacant high-rise condos. So yes, MSFT does owe those that have been here a great deal!!!

  • MSFTGuest

    I get off at the flyer bus stop currently here everyday, which is essentially next to where the light rail station will be in the topographical view, but looking at the rendering drawing, it seems that there is not really a direct way from the bus flyer / rail station up to the bridge. Looks like it would require either crossing the new plaza / bus loop area to the east to access the stairs up to the bridge and then back to the west to cross over 520. Seems like there should really be a set of stairs right next to the 520 offramp for most direct access from the flyer stop and rail station locations.

  • guest

    But will all the nearby parking be restricted to MSFT employees? Or will the finance the public parking as well?

  • Joe McGrath

    How did I know some liberals were going to instantly post about fair share of taxes and that government could have built this with the implicit assumption that government is as efficient as the private sector at everything. Three words; post office, obamacare. YOU HAVE LOST THIS ARGUMENT FOREVER.

    • Guest

      Joe, the government will build this bridge. It’s an easy task, not like delivering a letter or curing the poor.

      I am a liberal, Joe! My government exists to serve you just as long as you pay it your fair chair of taxes.

      I have won. In tribute, please pay taxes to our government.