New Amazon warehouses have residents worried about traffic

PASCO, Wash. — After Amazon recently announced its plans to create two multi-million square foot facilities in Pasco and hire 1,500 local residents as employees, some Tri-Citians are worried about how traffic in the area will be impacted.

The new sites are across the street from each other at 1351 S. Road 40 East and 1202 S. Road 40 East. Here’s how Amazon describes them:

“Employees at the over 1,080,000 square-foot Eastside facility will play an integral role in fulfilling customer items such as household goods, books, toys, and technology. Employees at the over 1,049,000 square-foot Westside facility will play an integral role in fulfilling larger items like paper goods, pet food and supplies, patio furniture, baby strollers, and outdoor sports equipment like kayaks, skis, and fishing gear, enabling faster shipping times on customer orders of larger items.”

Meagan Lott, the communications manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said they have been working with the City of Pasco and Amazon to figure out traffic accommodations.

“What the city does is they reach out to the developer, ask what their plan is, and have them do an impact statement,” Lott said. “Then within that, DOT requests a traffic analysis. What that traffic analysis does is take a look at what the impacts to that local highway will be and in this case, it’s US 12.”

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Lott said whenever there’s an area that doesn’t have large amounts of traffic or isn’t being developed, “there is always the concern that when new developers come to town” there will be a large impact.

“That’s primarily why the DOT gets involved is because we want to make sure that whatever the developer is building that the local highway or state highway can accommodate that increase in traffic volume,” Lott said.

In the current impact statement, Lott said Amazon suggested putting a right-turn lane to provide for people going into the warehouse.

“Right now we’re taking a look at that to see if this would be an improvement that would accommodate the amount of traffic we’re going to see there as part of that development,” Lott said. “Is this going to be the best fit for the amount of traffic we’re going to see in this area and if not then that’s something we’ll continue to work with the city of Pasco on as well as the developer to kind of come up with the best solution.”

Officials with the Ben Franklin Transit are also working on adding a stop right outside of the warehouses.

Amazon’s commitment to the Tri-City area is a significant catalyst in strengthening the resilience of our local economy, particularly during these unprecedented times, and we are proud to support this investment in our region by providing a transit connection between the two new facilities,” said BFT General Manager Gloria Boyce.

Byron Olson, the interim director for BFT marketing and communications, said they’re expecting 20% of the 1,500 employees to take public transportation.

“This will reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles which will help reduce congestion,” Olson said. “It’s our indication that it’ll be approximately 9 months to a year out so that gives us an ideal planning time to run through a variety of scenarios and see where we are, see what works best for Ben Franklin Transit, what works best for the customers, what works best for Amazon, and what works best for the city of Pasco.”

The facilities are set to be finished in October 2022.