Traffic

Think your commute is crazy? Check out these area drivers’ tales of woe

Davis LaMuerta listens to music as he commutes along I-5 from his house in Vancouver, Wash., to his job in Tumwater on Thursday, June 22, 2017. LaMuerta travels more than 100 miles a day to get to work. He uses music, audiobooks and podcasts to keep himself entertained and engaged during the long drives.
Davis LaMuerta listens to music as he commutes along I-5 from his house in Vancouver, Wash., to his job in Tumwater on Thursday, June 22, 2017. LaMuerta travels more than 100 miles a day to get to work. He uses music, audiobooks and podcasts to keep himself entertained and engaged during the long drives. jbessex@gateline.com

We have an army of road warriors when it comes to commuting.

We recently asked for your stories about your commutes to work, and there are plenty to share.

Here are some of the highlights, sent via email by participants in answers to our questions:

MINDFUL OF THE HOV LANE

Working from home can have unintended consequences, according to Maria Jones.

She works for BECU in Tukwila and her husband, Brian, works for Sherwin-Williams in Seattle. They live in Graham.

“I work from home two or three days a month; it is not an option for my husband,” Jones wrote. “When I do work from home, it adds over an hour to his commute since he can’t use the HOV lane.”

What keeps them from moving closer?

“The cost of housing mostly,” she wrote. “We have been looking to move for about a year, but have not been able to find housing at a price that meets our needs.”

The couple manages to stay busy even in their commutes of more than 35 miles each way, mostly on state Route 167.

“We mostly listen to the radio for traffic updates,” according to Jones. “But we also use this time to plan our schedules, weekly menus, and other household stuff. On Fridays (when the commute home is so long) we usually listen to music and sing our way home (often making up our own lyrics).

“I also use this time to respond to work emails, call my folks in Arizona and keep up with social media (my husband drives mostly).”

NOT EVEN CHECKING THAT GAS PRICE

Peggy Olsen doesn’t even want to know how much she spends on gas commuting from Elma to Tacoma to work at Point Defiance Elementary School.

“I would guess $45 a week for my work-related gasoline,” she wrote.

She’s considered moving to Olympia, but hasn’t found “the right place at a price I want to pay.”

“Because I go in later usually the morning (commute) isn’t too bad, but when it is bad it is very bad,” she wrote.

One bad time was a morning drive in November.

“I was trying to get Tacoma for a 9 a.m. meeting (I work 9:30-3:45 to try to avoid the traffic). I left home at 7:30 and heard there was a bad accident in Lacey. I got off at Mud Bay and went through town. It took forever to get through downtown. I got to Tacoma at 9:30.”

“When it is good I leave home about 7:50 and roll into the Starbucks on Pearl Street about 9:05 to pick up my mobile order, eat and get to school. For the last month or so it has been more like 9:15-9:20 or later.”

IT’S NOT LIKE PORTLAND TRAFFIC

Davis LaMuerta told us he works for Mills & Mills Funeral Home in Tumwater as a licensed funeral director/embalmer.

He believes he spends about $100 a week on gas.

Did we mention he’s driving from Vancouver, Washington? For him, commuting to Oregon turned out to be worse than going to Tumwater.

“I transferred ... after working in Beaverton and Tigard, because the traffic in the Portland metro area has gotten so congested that it actually would take me the same amount of time sometimes to commute,” he wrote. “I’d rather be spending that time moving than stuck sitting in traffic.

“Right now I’m waiting for my fiancée to graduate (from Mount Hood Community College). Once that happens, we plan to move up closer to the Olympia area.”

Working at home is not an option, for obvious reasons. So, how does he pass the time on Interstate 5?

“I love the ‘No Sleep’ podcast,” he wrote. “It’s a collection of short horror stories. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks, and music.”

HYBRID, MASS TRANSIT AND THE OCCASIONAL CARPOOL

Ben Brooks’ commute takes him from Fife to Bellevue, where he works for tech firm Nintex.

The trip includes taking the Sounder train from Tacoma to Seattle, then a bus from Seattle to Bellevue.

If he drives from Fife to the Tacoma rail station, his gas cost on average is zero, courtesy of his plug-in hybrid car. (His electric bill, he said, rose “probably $15 a month.”)

Brooks noted that he buys gas two times a month for $20 to $25 each time.

“Some days I carpool from Bellevue to the Kent train station with a coworker after work,” he wrote. “That can cut an hour off my commute. Not as feasible in the mornings nor feasible from Fife to Bellevue; too hard to match schedules.”

Still, he’s not moving closer to work anytime soon.

“Last I looked rent for a place similar to mine would be three times as much as I pay now,” he wrote. “Forget about a house purchase. Two: Family/friends all live in the South End. Three: I like the Tacoma area much better than the Eastside.”

What was his worst commute?

“The day earlier this year the propane tanker flipped over in downtown Seattle, while at the same time it snowed on the Eastside.

“After the tanker flipped over I left about 3, as soon as I could, to walk into a snowstorm. Bus was an hour delayed, then with the freeway shut down in Seattle it was 6:30 before we got to the bus tunnel, 10 minutes too late for the last Sounder.

“Luckily I managed to get one of the last three spots on the bus leaving Seattle for Tacoma, where we turned down people who had been waiting for over a hour. Got home a little before 8 p.m.

“Lesson learned: When coworker who lives 5 miles from work says it is dumping snow, stay home. Or when buses from the Eastside are that delayed and covered in snow, go camp out in our digital agency's office.”

OTHER STORIES FROM THE ROAD

▪ Erin McMeel

Commutes from Lacey to Sea-Tac Airport. She leaves after 6 p.m. to get to her job by 8 p.m.

“The roughest part of the commute is Hawks Prairie on Sundays. If it’s backed up it take me about 20 minutes to go maybe four or five miles. And then it’s slow through the base.

I personally think they need either an HOV lane or add another lane, having three lanes isn’t enough anymore.”

▪ Melissa Perry

Leaves home in Gig Harbor at 4:30 a.m., takes park and ride bus to downtown Seattle and transfers to express bus to Bellevue.

Repeat in the afternoon, typically home about 7 p.m.

▪ Alissa Peretti

Commutes from Kent to Monroe.

Worst day: Stuck behind a rolled over logging truck on state Route 405 and then a rolled over gravel truck on state Route 522; took more than two hours to get to work.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell

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