West Seattle Bridge Remains Closed, Livelihoods Must Go On

Jeffrey Go, Managing Editor

In the past year, if a person said, “I live in West Seattle,” the first statement that pops into people’s heads is “Oh, that commute was be awful.” It’s no recent news that the commute to and from West Seattle is a marathon, and that is an understatement. The closure of the West Seattle bridge has changed the daily routine of its residents and has transformed their livelihoods.

For example, how students and faculty get to Seattle Prep has majorly changed. While carpooling has always been a popular method to commute, it has almost become a necessity for many if they want to be in class before first period begins.

“Even with the bridge, we got home super late, so that sucks,” exclaimed Raquel Wong ’23. Many at Seattle Prep already have extra-curriculars, sports, and other activities to do after school. Fitting in a 2-hour commute round trip does not leave much time for anything else other than sleep and homework.

If commuting with a car is tough, commuting with a bus ride is even more painful. “It takes about one hour to an hour and a half one way,” said Roan Garces ‘23 about his commute. Garces takes the public bus to and from Seattle Prep, and the experience has been quite “awful.”

With the huge lead time for the full repair of the bridge, Garces is starting to feel “spite toward the Seattle construction. It’s just been too long without the bridge.” While the long repair time is not entirely the fault of construction, Garces still can’t help but to feel like something could be done better and more efficiently. It also certainly doesn’t help that the bridge has been out of use for a year or so and will not be opened for another year or even longer.

And this bridge problem doesn’t just affect Wong or Garces. From the many new faces at Prep to the seasoned veterans, everyone living in West Seattle faces the same issue, including the faculty. Many teachers in West Seattle have started to carpool with one another in order to save time, gas, and frankly their sanity over the hours of commute time.

“So far, I’ve carpooled with Ms. Young, Mr. Elsner, Ms. Borgen, and Ms. Fernandez,” said social studies teacher Cheryl Healy. “It makes the time go faster and is better for the environment.” Being in a car alone when the sun hasn’t even risen yet can get very mundane and can give strength to the sleepiness of the early morning. With people carpooling together, the ability to share the extended commuting experience together becomes at least a little bit more bearable.

There have also been crazy commute and traffic stories that have occurred due to the unprecedented closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

“My best story happened the first week of school,” stated Prep librarian Liz Borgen. “I took the Highway 99 tunnel south to get home, but after I entered, it abruptly closed because of an accident further down.” Collisions and traffic can make the drive back to West Seattle a nightmare, let alone being stuck in a now-closed tunnel with no updates on when it would be reopened.

“After about 20 minutes, people behind me started backing up out of the tunnel to get onto the surface streets. I decided to do the same, which is how I found myself with my hazard lights on, slowly backing for ¾ of a mile out of the Highway 99 tunnel!” added Borgen.

From exponentially increased commute times to crazy events, the closure of the West Seattle bridge has created a lot of abnormality to people’s lives. Despite the hardship it has caused, it is important to remember that the bridge will not be closed forever and that there is a future where the bridge is finally reopened. As Healy exclaimed, “I can’t wait for that bridge to reopen! And come visit us in West Seattle. It’s really nice here—worth the drive.”