Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Building bridges: I-235/U.S. 54 work continues

Construction crews closed I-235/U.S. 54 during the weekend of October 6 to install twelve 120-foot bridge beams over traffic lanes. The work took three days. 

Part of the challenge of building a two-lane flyover ramp at a major interchange in a metropolitan city is installing the bridge beams over multiple lanes of traffic without dropping them on cars.

To prevent that kind of catastrophic event, construction crews in Wichita closed U.S. 54 under I-235 and I-235 over U.S. 54 during the weekend of October 6. Twelve 120-foot steel bridge beams were installed over traffic lanes during the three days.

Construction crews closed I-235/U.S. 54 during the weekend of October 6 to install twelve 120-foot bridge beams over traffic lanes. The work took three days. 

The beams will support the southbound I-235 ramp to eastbound U.S. 54. Similar closures at the interchange are planned in 2018 as this ramp progresses and when more beams are installed in the area for the new northbound I-235 ramp to westbound U.S. 54.

Construction crews closed I-235/U.S. 54 during the weekend of October 6 to install twelve 120-foot bridge beams over traffic lanes. The work took three days. 

The first phase of the I-235/U.S. 54 interchange reconstruction includes the building of seven new bridges and the repair or widening of ten other bridges. Work on the interchange improvements began in November 2015 and is on-schedule for a summer 2019 completion.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Fly Kansas Air Tour 2017 a soaring success

Forty planes and fifty pilots participated in the 3-day Fly Kansas Air Tour. 

Amelia Earhart once said, “…The lure of flying is the lure of beauty, and I need no other flight to convince me that the reason flyers fly, whether they know it or not, is the aesthetic appeal of flying.”

More than 1,200 students and members of the public had the opportunity to view 40 planes that participated in the 2017 Fly Kansas Air Tour.  

A Pilot demonstrates the controls to a student during the Fly Kansas Air Tour.

At least 50 pilots and their planes began their 10-stop journey on Sept. 28 in Wellington. The tour, which was presented by the Kansas Commission on Aerospace Education (KCAE) and KDOT focused on encouraging STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and highlighted the benefits of local airports to smaller communities. 

Students react to the various aircraft that took part in the Fly Kansas Air Tour. 

This is the fourth consecutive year for the revived Fly Kansas Air Tour. The first incarnation of the tour took place in 1928, and its goal was to promote the fledgling aviation industry in Kansas. While this year’s tour still promoted the aviation industry in the state; Ed Young, President of the KCAE and the Fly Kansas Foundation, said that it also helped spread the message that aviation is for everyone.

Merrill Atwater, KDOT’s Director of Aviation, said that it’s important to recognize the important role aviation plays in Kansas.

“Aviation generates over $20 billion to the state’s gross domestic product,” Atwater said. “Kansas has such a rich history of aviation and it is important for us to celebrate this industry and who we are as Kansans.”

Atwater said it is important that local communities with airports understand the asset that they have and that aviation is a career path.

A row of planes that flew in the Fly Kansas Air Tour.
“Each community should know what role aviation plays locally and how it helps drive the state’s economy,” Atwater said.

The tour made stops in several communities in Kansas: Wellington, Liberal, Dodge City, Hays, Concordia, Atchison, Olathe, Pittsburg, Independence and it wrapped up in Benton on Sept. 30.

“We are humbled to have such a support for the Fly Kansas Air Tour,” Atwater said. “The KDOT Aviation staff did an outstanding job on delivering an incredible experience to all involved.”

Check out our recap video of the Fly Kansas Air Tour!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Real time truck parking availability signs along I-70 on list of approved September lettings

An example of the Truck Parking Information Management Systems (TPIMS)
A project that will provide real time information regarding truck parking availability at rest areas along I-70 through the use of roadside signs and an electronic data feed was one of the projects included in the Sept. 20 KDOT construction letting.

KDOT is participating in the Regional Truck Parking Information Management Systems (TPIMS) along with seven other states in the Mid America Association of State Transportation Official (MAASTO) region. Custom Lighting Services LLC DBA Black and McDonald of Kansas City, Mo., is the prime contractor on the $3,083,462 project.

To see all of the projects in the Sept. 20 letting, click here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Kansas youth use creativity to focus on improving traffic safety

These artists don’t need a driver’s license to understand what it means to practice safe driving.

During the weeks that led up to the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day, children from across the state were encouraged to illustrate creative posters that would educate drivers about traffic safety.

More than 1,000 young artists submitted their designs to the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day poster contest and Nora Ackermann of Andover, Austin Lamb of Osage City and Alyson Welch of Overland Park are the statewide winners.

Nora Ackermann of Andover is a statewide winner in the 5-7 age group.

Each of the winning artists were first selected as a regional winner and they will each receive a bicycle and helmet donated by Safe Kids Kansas at individual presentations that will take place at their schools.

Austin Lamb of Osage City, is a statewide winner in the 8-10 age group.

Each student will also receive a Kindle Fire tablet from the Kansas Turnpike Authority, a $50 gift card from the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas, a $50 gift card from Wal-Mart and movie passes from AAA Kansas.

Alyson Welch of Overland Park, is a statewide winner in the 11-13 age group. 

More than 50 entries from teens in 25 Kansas schools were received in the annual video contest. Kansas teens were asked to submit traffic safety videos up to a minute in length.

Students from Eudora High School won first place. The class will receive their choice of an iPad, GoPro or Osmo Steadicam along with a $500 donation to the school.

 Andrew Tabb from Shawnee Mission West High School captured second place. Kodi Rogers and Aly Tarrango from Scott City High School placed third in the video contest. Each will receive one of the remaining prizes listed above.

You can view all three of the winning videos here: 

KDOT, along with the KTA, the Kansas Highway Patrol, AAA Kansas, Kansas Contractors Association, Kansas Family Partnership, Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, Federal Highway Administration and the Kansas Society of Professional Engineers all worked together to make the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day safety campaign a success.

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day is a nationwide effort to increase roadway safety and reduce all traffic fatalities. For more information and a list of all the winners across Kansas, go to www.ksdot.org and click on the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day information.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe

Doug Herbert
By Doug Herbert

Pop quiz: What’s the number-one cause of death among teens in the U.S.?

Hint: It kills more young people every day than cancer, suicide or murder.

Answer: Car crashes.

Every year, thousands of teens die in car crashes and hundreds of thousands more are taken to the hospital with serious injuries. This statistic became a reality for me in January of 2008 when my two boys, Jon and James, ages 17 and 12, were killed in a car crash. One bad decision led to the death of my beautiful boys and brought to light for me a major epidemic in our country. I learned that car crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and it was obvious to me that something had to be done. This realization was the impetus behind our creation of B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe).

In that first year, with the help of other racers, we created an advanced driver training program to prepare my son Jon’s friends for the kinds of situations drivers face every day – skidding on an off-ramp, panic braking, emergency lane changes, etc. – scenarios that are often deadly for new drivers due to lack of experience. Jon’s classmates came up with the acronym B.R.A.K.E.S., and a mission was born.
Doug with his children, Jon, James
and Jessie, at Christmas in 2007.

Nine years later, B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained more than 25,000 teens from 43 different states and five countries. When you add in their parents, who are required to attend the training alongside their teen, that’s nearly 50,000 safer drivers on the road. This year, B.R.A.K.E.S. will host more than 40 weekend schools, visiting more than 20 different cities.
Often teens arrive for training somewhat surly, a bit resentful that their weekend time has been committed to what they think is going to be some sort of “Driver’s Ed school-thing.” Many have already been driving for months or even longer, and they think there’s nothing more to learn. But usually a little more than an hour later, the students are fully engaged, intently listening to their instructors and nervously laughing when it’s their turn to get behind the wheel and try something they’ve never done before. By the end of the four-hour session, graduation certificate in hand, the students are usually all smiles, and on the walk back to the car, many hugs are exchanged between parent and teen as both share a genuine moment of connection and common experience.
Evidence of B.R.A.K.E.S.’ efficacy goes beyond anecdotes, however. A study conducted by University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Professor Emeritus Dr. Paul Friday, compared driving records from five years’ worth of B.R.A.K.E.S. graduates with non-graduate peers, and the results were staggering: Teens without the B.R.A.K.E.S. training were more than twice as likely to experience a crash in the first three years of driving. Said another way, B.R.A.K.E.S. training reduced the likelihood of a crash by 64 percent – which is incredible when you consider that statistics show half of all teenagers will experience a crash before they graduate from high school.
The B.R.A.K.E.S. program is our way of preventing injuries and saving lives, and as a father, it’s important to me that this charity ensures that Jon and James will live on in memory and make a difference.

Doug Herbert is a legend in the drag racing world and has won 10 NHRA National Event Championships, 20 IHRA National Event Championships and four Top Fuel World Championships.


Monday, October 9, 2017

We were lucky

By Mary Jane King
Last summer I went with my husband and a friend to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to visit family and enjoy the three-day Biker’s Blues and BBQ motorcycle rally in Fayetteville. My favorite motorcycle ride is one filled with tree-lined switchbacks. I love the slower pace, and waiting for the next surprise to be glimpsed through the trees. So I was excited to start our ride from Fort Smith to Eureka Springs.

Highway 23, also known as the Pig Trail, is a remote, two-lane road curling and twisting its way through the scenic Ozark Mountains just like a pig’s tail. It is so beautiful that it has become one of the top 10 recommended motorcycle rides in America.
A very severe leg break.

We were on the Pig Trail only 20 minutes before we had trouble navigating a sharp left turn. We later found out that we hit a flattened armadillo carcass. It was so flat that we didn’t see it, but it was slick enough to cause the front tire to slide. My husband had only 20 feet to make a decision; either lay the motorcycle down in the road, or take the grass-lined ditch. Since neither of us were wearing a helmet, the ditch seemed to be the safer option.

We don’t remember much about those first few moments after leaving the road. I woke up laying in a deep ditch next to the totaled motorcycle, and my husband was 15 feet away with a severely broken leg.

Within minutes, two off-duty first responders pulled up to the scene. Thankfully, they were able to save my husband’s leg. Due to the remote location of our accident, it took almost an hour and a half before we arrived at the hospital. Our injuries were not necessarily minor. But things could have been worse, much worse. Only by the grace of God did neither of us receive a head injury from being thrown from the motorcycle.

Everyone has their own reasons as to why they do or don’t wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, but I will always encourage others to make a safer decision than we did.  Wear a helmet, it could keep your life from changing.

Mary Jane King is a Graphic Designer Specialist at the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A word to the wise is sufficient

By Dean Harris
Dean Harris
I had a college professor that used to tell me, "A word to the wise is sufficient." It's been 30 years since I have seen him, and over that time these words have proven useful to me. I'm hoping that these few words will find wise folks as well.
I'm not going to act as one who has always made right choices or done the right thing out here. We all can testify, that just is not the case for anyone. I've been driving professionally for over 25 years, and I have made some bad decisions. Only by the grace of God, nothing came of them. We have all driven too fast for conditions, texted while driving, held a cell phone to talk while driving, changed music or read something while behind the wheel. Eating while driving. They are all distractions. I've been so tired in the past, that I couldn’t remember how I got to the ramp I was on. I now have a different view of "power naps." Changing your idea of distracted driving is my hope here.
Recently I had the opportunity to view a crash from a forward-facing dash cam. Dash cams have increased the intensity of my convictions concerning distracted driving. I will not go into the details, except one. When the video was replayed, it stopped a split second before impact. At that very moment, you see the driver’s face. You could see their eyes. You could see the driver's horror. Almost as if they realized they had made a terrible mistake, but too late. They had made a decision they would not return from. No more birthdays to celebrate. No grandkid's celebrations. No retirement. All gone in an instant. Gone! Just that quick.
No matter what your age, you can make decisions on these roads that will change lives forever! Please, please, please, let words to the wise suffice.

Dean Harris is a Kansas Road Team member and a driver for FedEx.