Thursday, November 15, 2018

National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week

Each year, hundreds of emergency responders representing fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, towing and transportation agencies are struck and either injured or killed while responding.

This week is National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, which is a national campaign that raises awareness on improving safety for all these workers along the roadways.

A photo of a scene captured by a WICHway camera located on K-96 from Nov. 1, 2018. 

Every minute of every day, emergency responders across the country work to help save lives at the scene of traffic incidents.

As drivers, we are all responsible for using extra caution when approaching and passing a traffic incident work area. While it may seem like an inconvenience and a travel delay, it is imperative that we protect those involved in the crash and the emergency responders whose job it is to help others at the scene.

More than 4,000 first responders from across Kansas and millions from across the nation have been trained through the Traffic Incident Management program. It created by the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Institute.

KDOT crews attended Traffic Incident Management training in Wichita.  

The training shares best practices in responding to, processing and removing traffic incidents as safely and quickly as possible. It is a planned and coordinated effort with goals to improve incident scene safety, inform other drivers of the situation, prevent secondary crashes resulting from congested traffic and return traffic flow to normal.

Graphic source:

Millions of responders are working on the roadway at traffic incident scenes, every day, around the clock. Millions more motorists are passing near or through that incident work area. Looking out for one another is everybody’s responsibility.

Help us raise awareness of the dangers that emergency responders face during traffic incidents. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force – Olathe and Manhattan meetings

Preservation Needs, Funding Methods and Economic Development – The final regional stakeholder meetings took place on Nov. 8 and 9 in Olathe and Manhattan. The presentations covered a variety of topics — including declining pavement health and the need to fund preservation, the economic impact of transportation and KDOT initiatives and innovations. KDOT also shared information on how projects are prioritized and selected. 

Paula Gough, District Engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Northeast District, presented case studies on Transportation Development Districts and other cost-share programs that are used to address transportation needs in Missouri communities. Additionally, Suzanne Loomis, City Engineer and Director of Public Works for the City of Newton, presented information on local roads and the transportation needs of cities in Kansas. Presentations from the meetings can be found here.

Local Testimony Consistent with Themes from Across Meetings – During public testimony, many key themes from previous meetings continued.  At the meeting in Olathe, we heard about the critical role transportation plays in encouraging economic development in Johnson County.  We heard about the need for the expansion of U. S. 69 in Overland Park as well as expansion of other corridors in Olathe and Lenexa.  Other stakeholders also shared the importance of safety improvements and the need for improved bike and pedestrian facilities. 

In Manhattan, numerous stakeholders provided testimony on the need for improved safety on K-177, a vital connection for Manhattan and nearby communities. We also heard about improvements needed for K-31. Stakeholders and local community officials also discussed transportation as an economic driver and the importance of bicycle and pedestrian facilities as connectors to the overall transportation system.

Task Force Recommendations.  The next step in this process is for Task Force members to meet, discuss the information that was shared during the regional meetings and develop recommendations for the next Kansas transportation program.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Movie magic: KDOT produces training video

Most of us aren’t thinking about snow and ice in August, but that’s what several KDOT employees had on their minds last summer as they filmed an educational video.

Retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua, left, and Equipment Mechanic Senior Steve Schmidt mix brine.
August was pretty warm for making brine, but to help future KDOT employees learn how to do it, that’s exactly what Field Maintenance Manager Jim Frye had a crew do at the North/East Complex in Wichita.
Frye oversaw a training video about how to make salt brine. The video, when completed, will be featured on the Bureau of Maintenance’s page on KDOT’s intranet as part of employee training. Frye said recently that he thinks the video will be available soon to employees.

Retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua loads salt to mix brine.

Bret Mathias, Media Production Technician in Support Services, shot the video with retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua, who worked in Wichita, and Equipment Mechanic Senior Steve Schmidt, who works in Salina.

Retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua overlooks the machine that mixes brine. 

Padua and Schmidt made brine on camera to teach others the proper techniques to do so.
“This is something we have wanted to do for a while,” Frye said of this particular training video.
KDOT spends a lot of time training new Equipment Operator Trainees.

Districts across the state also offer “snowfighter training” to new crew members to help them learn the ins and outs of pre-treating and plowing roads.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Winter weather driving tips

Snow is falling across parts of the state. Here are a few winter weather driving tips for everyone to keep in mind. Be ready for rapidly changing road conditions and adjust your driving for the weather around your vehicle. 

Remember — for consistently-updated road conditions, check

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bank stabilization repair one of many approved October projects

Construction on the Ninnescah Riverbank in Summer 2017 was the first phase of this erosion prevention project. 

The second phase of an emergency repair project near the Ninnescah River in Sumner County was one of more than 50 project bids approved in the Oct. 17 letting. This emergency repair project will help protect the area from flooding.

In 1986, a project was designed to reconstruct the Ninnescah riverbank to help reduce erosion in this area. The project included the installation of 15 steel pile jetties to assist with erosion prevention. Of the 15 jetties installed, six of them were later found to be slanted and all of them showed significant corrosion. In fact, comparing satellite pictures from 2002 and 2017, demonstrates the bank was still displaying signs of erosion even though jetties were in place.  

In September 2016 massive rainfall amounts caused the Ninnescah River to swell and flood U.S. 81 and K-55. KDOT saw a need to address this area. In mid-2017, the first emergency repair phase took place. That project focused on the area right along the highway where the highest chance of a slide could take place if another significant flood were to happen. Rock was placed to armor the toe of the slope, followed by a bed, filter and an additional stone layer to reconstruct and armor the bank.

The second phase of the emergency repair will focus on the remaining jetties that are not immediately adjacent to the highway. This phase will also include a significant amount of stone to be placed to armor the toe of the slope. Instead of just relying solely on rock, KDOT will plant willow trees, which will create root systems to give the slope a living protection against erosion.

Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co., INC., of Wichita is the contractor working on the $879,046.25 project.

To see the various stages of this project, click here.
To read more about the other approved projects, click here.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stay safe and warm: Coats and car seats are a dangerous combination

Cold weather has arrived across the state and with the falling temps, everyone is reaching for their coats for warmth and protection from the elements.

When it comes to bundling children up for a car ride, extra caution needs to be considered for any child who uses a car seat. That bulky coat, which was meant to protect them from the cold, could actually put their life at risk inside the car seat.

As a rule, coats shouldn’t be worn under a safety harness. They take up too much room and can allow for extra space between the child’s body and the safety restraint system of the seat. Use the graphic below for some suggestions for how your child can stay safe and warm while traveling.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Kandrive: There's a hack for that

One of KDOT’s year-round customer service products to help drivers plan their travel is, which automatically and continuously updates closures, construction and traffic-impacting incidents on interstates, highways and Kansas routes.  But during the winter, with a flurry of information coming from various sources and rapidly changing conditions, drivers often forget KanDrive is still the most accurate and timely source for road condition information.

“KanDrive is KDOT’s traveler information gateway for Kansas and surrounding states,” said Kevin Hennes, KDOT Applications Developer. “It provides an interactive map of Kansas roads, work zones and the ability to view highway cameras to see surface-related road conditions in real time on computer and mobile devices.”

While road condition updates are often posted on KDOT’s social media pages, they are not updated around the clock. KanDrive is the official source of highway travel information in Kansas and it has the most current and complete source of road condition information available. The application is fed by several electronic sources from across the state and it updates in real time.

“Please do not tweet, email or message KDOT when you need timely information on road closures, we cannot answer calls or emails around the clock, even during storms,” said Laurie Arellano, KDOT Communications Director.  “By the time we are able to respond to your message, conditions may have changed significantly.”

Drivers can check KanDrive anytime from a computer or a phone and get the same information, although they may look different.  For those who rely primarily on their mobile devices, take a tour of the mobile-friendly version in this blog to find the quickest way to get road condition information.

Use your device to get to the Internet and type in to arrive at the home screen.

Select view the roads.  KanDrive has four options to show  road conditions: Seasonal, partially covered, completely covered and closed.  Road condition information on this page is a broader picture of weather conditions in the state.

Seasonal means the roads are normal for that time of year.  Patchy slick spots after a frost are seasonal, lightly blowing snow following a snowfall is also seasonal, as are wet roads following rain. 

Partially covered means there are large patches of road covered by snow which will require drivers to slow down. 

Completely covered means roadway surfaces are not visible due to heavy snow. 
Closed roads means that the road conditions no longer safe for travel and it is against the law to go around road closure gate signs.

Now, for more localized travel information, click the back arrow in the top left corner.

On this page you’ll access more specific information about the highway or interstate you’re concerned about.  Select any of the options for more specific information to get local conditions.

Or select cameras and signs to see what conditions look like in real time.

Hennes says it’s important during changing weather conditions to check conditions frequently before planning to travel.

“It is always best to know before you go.”