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As Eastside population grows, so do commute times

More people, more cars, fewer options

seattle traffic

Commutes are getting longer, and it’s no surprise. The area is growing, and not just in Seattle proper. More jobs in Seattle mean more people all over the area—and southeast King County, far less dense than Seattle and with limited transportation options, is feeling the ramifications of more cars on the road.

According to KIRO TV, commute times on State Route 18 have gone up an average of seven minutes in the past two years. For people retreating to the more affordable, rural areas, commutes are more likely to be in a car on roads that are expensive to expand. KIRO estimates that of the 88,000 people that moved to King County in the last two years, 25,220 moved into a band from Covington to North Bend served by the highway.

Just counting the drivers, Washington State grew by 12,973 in January, according to the Washington State Department of Licensing. That’s state-wide, but that’s like squeezing another Woodinville into our existing transportation grid each month.

Trulia has an interactive map that color codes the commute times from a location. Those about to relocate for a job in Seattle: See how far or close you have to live for a reasonable commute. One surprise might be that highways are still the best commute option because even the backroads are slow and clogged.

Even though regional transit projects are almost funded, those plans stretch out to 2040. You probably have to get to work sooner than that.