West Seattle 'like Gilligan's Island' during viaduct closure

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 24, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 24 at 5:42 PM

SEATTLE -- Like many others in West Seattle on Monday, Sheilah Sullivan didn't even bother making the journey to work.

"I feel like I'm on an island that I can't get off of," she said. "Kind of like Gilligan's Island."

Sullivan and a friend telecommuted from their neighborhood coffee shop, rather than chance the commute around the closed Alaskan Way viaduct by car.

"Like Ginger and Mary Ann basically," said Sullivan.

On the first day of the nine-day closure, the people of West Seattle coped. Many of them chose to get up early and drive alternate routes. More than 900 of them switched their commute for the the King County Water Taxi. Three boats were even too full to let on more passengers. Though the wait to get on board was long, the 10-minute crossings, not a "three hour tour," remained on schedule. 

"We think it's a slam dunk," said water taxi Captain Neal Amaral. "With all of the added runs, It's been working very well."

But the hundreds of people on the water taxi created a flood of cars on Alki, filling every parking spot for a mile. People who live and work there were angry without a place to park. Antowaine Richardson decided to simply go back home to Newcastle and work from there.

"I'm getting out of here. This is crazy," he said. "We have to do something about it. We need some help."

Some also chose to check out completely. Susan Kemp took the whole week as vacation -- enjoying her time as a "castaway."

"I'm taking walks, spending some time writing. Maybe I'll do some shopping. We'll see," said Kemp.

But for those not so fortunate, the concerns continues on, like a sit-com in reruns - but nobody's laughing.

"What I am worried about isn't so much today," said Sullivan from her seat in the coffee shop. "They heeded the warnings and stayed at home. What I'm worried about is that Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday commute."

That's what has everybody worried. Seattle's transportation officials say those who worked from home or carpooled or took the train Monday should keep it up -- and bring a friend tomorrow.

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