Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why did the house cross the road? (To get to the other side)

By Anne Broache

As you may have seen on this blog before, we are all about finding ways to reduce how much waste our projects send to landfills—both to leave our environment better than we found it and to save taxpayers money.
Fully intact, the house makes its move
across the street toward its new location.

But usually we’re talking about practices like reusing soil and recycling concrete during highway construction. That’s why the scene atop Renton’s Talbot Hill neighborhood on a recent Tuesday morning was a bit unusual.

At a bend in Davis Avenue South overlooking downtown Renton and Lake Washington, an entire 3,300-square-foot house rested on steel beams and sets of wheels in its original lot. Over the course of a day, a small contractor crew used a winch and pulley system to roll the two-story structure to a vacant lot across the street.

Our agency bought the home and lot last year to prepare for an important road project for the area (more on that below). Often, when we purchase property, the most cost-effective next step is to demolish and remove whatever buildings remain.
A few hours after beginning its slow move, the
structure has almost reached its final resting spot.

In this case, however, we emphasized the need for recycling when seeking demolition contractors. As a result, the winning contractor found a way to reuse and relocate most of the house—at a price nearly 90 percent less than what we had budgeted.  Bottom line: The house is no longer in the way of our project, and the contractor can now finish readying the house for new residents.

We’re excited that we secured not only an affordable bid but also a green one—recycling at its best. We eliminated potential waste from tearing down the house, erased the emissions and fuel usage that would have occurred as haul trucks made numerous trips through Renton neighborhoods, and prevented the need for construction materials to build a new home on the vacant lot.

Making way for traffic improvements 

The property is one of several ongoing acquisitions related to the I-405/SR 167 Direct Connector project.

This visualization shows a planned
new flyover ramp to connect the SR 167
HOT lanes with the I-405 carpool lanes.
We plan to improve traffic flow and safety by building a new flyover ramp that connects the High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on SR 167 with the carpool lanes on Interstate 405. We don’t have funding for construction yet, but we’re moving forward with property purchases and design so that we’re ready to start building once funding is in place.

If you’d like to learn more and follow our progress, be sure to bookmark the I-405/SR 167 Interchange Direct Connector Project webpage.


Mike B said...

Seems rather backwards to brag about reducing fuel consumption, eliminating emissions, and waste reduction by moving a house to widen a freeway. Realistically, it would have been more green to build transit and not widen the freeway in the first place.

Dean Fuller said...

When does the planning process start for the NB SR-167 to WB SR-18 and EB SR-18 to SB-167 ramps?

Anonymous said...

For 30 years the state of Washington has spent money modifying 405 near the 167 interchange without getting it correct. The photo shows something close, but it's still not the best you can do. You need to get more lanes for both HOV and regular traffic moving in this interchange between 405 & 167How many more millions of dollars will continue to be wasted by not getting it right? Those lanes should handle a minimum of the two lanes of traffic in each direction. Three would be the smartest for future growth (it's always coming) It doesn't take an Engineer to figure out where traffic slows, mostly at interchanges and on ramps. The more interaction and thinking by drivers the more problems.
Don't go Cheap so you have to do it again. You have had three or four chances to do this correctly already. Do it once and for all. Save taxpayers by doing it once, your current design will only need to be widened in ten years.

WSDOT said...

Mike, thanks for your comment. Before starting design and construction for our I-405 projects, we completed an Environmental Impact Statement back in 2002 that studied different options for improving travel in this area, including one option that emphasized bus rapid transit. Through a consensus process with representatives from the whole corridor and public input, we ultimately selected an option that offers the most desirable solution in terms of balancing transportation performance, efficiency and environmental, social and economic impacts.

The project discussed in this blog, the SR 167/I-405 Interchange Direct Connector, will give transit riders, vanpoolers and carpoolers a more reliable trip by building a flyover ramp connecting the SR 167 HOT lanes directly to the I-405 carpool lanes. Today, these vehicles must merge across lanes of traffic to continue on the HOT/carpool lanes as they transition from I-405 to SR 167. Essentially, we’ll remove a tough bottleneck, which will improve traffic flow across all lanes and thus decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

WSDOT said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comment. Our long-term plans call for rebuilding the entire I-405/SR 167 interchange, including replacing the existing cloverleaf interchange with higher-speed ramps between these two highways. The I-405/SR 167 Direct Connector project referenced in the blog may not get us all the way there, but it will be an important step toward improving congestion at this interchange. Unfortunately, we haven't yet secured construction funding for the Direct Connector or the full reconstruction at this time, although we are moving forward with design for this piece of the project because it is a high priority. That said, we've already made some improvements in this vicinity, including adding a lane in both directions of I-405 between I-5 and SR 169 and building the new half-diamond interchange east of SR 167 at Talbot Road/SR 515. If you'd like any more information, feel free to email Steve Peer, our project contact, at

WSDOT said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Funny that this blog makes it seem that this house moving was DOT's idea. This is not true at all. The author of this blog should confess and recant her statements because this is an Out and Out Lie. This house like all the others here in our neighborhood are going out for DEMO! If anyone is fooled by her statement, don't be. It is nice that the house was saved but give credit where credit is due, to the contractor who with his own time and money Bought the lot across the street and went to the city of Renton and asked to move the house. The county actually has so many regulations now that makes it all but impossible to recycle all of the debris from a DEMO'ed house. Step aside government and let the private sector handle this.

WSDOT said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comment. We completely agree that the contractor deserves the credit for salvaging and recycling the home, as we indicate in the line, “We’re excited that we secured not only an affordable bid but also a green one.” WSDOT definitely supports innovative thinking by our private sector partners and encourages innovation through our contract language. We all benefited from the contractor’s great ideas for this project.

Freeway Wise said...

I really am hoping that WSDOT will be recycling (reusing) the freeway wall that was just put up a few years ago. Back then we were all told that once the next phase was approved the wall would be moved. It was even put together with nuts and bolts at the top once they were hoisted into place. Then Caulk was used between the sections to make it look like it was one solid wall.

We are also hoping that the sidewalk will not be poured at the freeway wall but instead give our neighborhood a safe way to walk down S. 15th street by putting a sidewalk on the North side of the road where there is plenty of room to do so.

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