Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: Rumble Strips

As a driver you might think of the rumble strips noisy feature of the highway, but to KDOT they are are an effective countermeasure for reducing roadway departure crashes. The noise and vibration produced by rumble strips alert drivers when they leave the highway. Rumble stripes is the term used for rumble strips painted with a retroreflective coating to increase the visibility of the pavement edge at night and during inclement weather conditions.

Research from the Federal Highway Administration shows that installing rumble strips can reduce severe crashes.

KDOT uses all types of shoulder rumble strips, depending on the need and the material. The groove pattern can be installed intermittently or continuously. The groove pattern, depth, width, shape, and spacing may also change with the road agency. Milled rumble strips are made by a machine with a rotary cutting head, which creates a smooth, uniform, and consistent groove into the pavement. 

Different dimensions of milled rumble strips provide different amounts of sound and vibration in a passenger car. The wider and deeper the rumble strip, the more sound and vibration. Cars and trucks make different sounds while driving over the strip.  It's important for KDOT to inspect the quality and construction of the rumble strips in order to create right amount of vibration and noise to do what they are intended to do, alert drivers to the fact they are no longer on the roadway. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Motoring Monday: Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

The Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site is an archaeological site and museum located near the city of Republic. At the site are the remains of a village once occupied in the late 1700s and early 1800s by the Kitkehahki, or Republican, band of the Pawnee tribe.
To protect the site, the land was purchased in 1875 and then donated in 1901 to the state of Kansas for historic preservation. Research at that time showed that Zebulon Pike led an expedition to this site in 1806, seeking allies after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Pike supposedly persuaded the Indians to take down a Spanish flag and replace it with a U.S. flag.
A granite monument commemorating the flag incident was dedicated in 1901. Years later it was discovered that Pike actually visited a Kitkehahki village in south central Nebraska. The effort was a fortunate one though; this site was preserved whereas the Nebraska site was not.
The museum is located eight miles north of U.S. 36 on K-266. To learn more about the site, go to

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: Pavement fixes in northwest Kansas

Much needed repairs are underway along a 21-mile stretch of K-27 in northern Cheyenne County from the west U.S. 36/K-27 junction north to the Nebraska border.  Above average rainfall and temperatures last summer led to deteriorating pavement conditions that required action prior to this year’s construction. As a temporary fix, KDOT crews laid down approximately 300 tons of hot mix along a 12-mile stretch of the route to tide it over until 2016.

This year’s work includes a 4-inch milling of the road surface, followed by application of a 3-inch inlay and 1.5-inch overlay. Construction began in early June and is expected to be completed by mid-August. Venture Corporation is the primary contractor with a total contract cost of approximately $4.7 million.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A rest in time: Photographer preserves iconic rest areas

It never fails. You are cruising down the highway and suddenly the call of nature strikes.  You desperately search the landscape for any opportunity to stop. 

For many, travel plazas are a welcome relief. Where you can fill up your vehicle, take care of business and maybe grab a snack before you return to the highway. Modern conveniences are great, but travel back in time to the birth of highway and interstate travel and the rest stops look much different.

You may have had opportunities to spot them; these retro rest stops dot the roadsides all around the country. Each of them represents cultural and architectural influences of the times. From oil derrick replicas to teepees and even stops in the shape of a longhorn head, they all provided a great service: A place where travelers could get out of their car, eat a picnic, and take a break from the fast lane.

Time is not on their side, however, as many of these rest areas are falling into disrepair or demolished and replaced with travel plazas.

Ryann Ford, a photographer from Austin, Texas, is trying to keep these iconic images alive. In her new book, The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside, she takes readers on a fantastic trip capturing over 75 images of rest stops along America’s highways, including stops in Kansas.

“The Kansas rest stops were some of my favorite rest stops to shoot,” Ford said. “My favorite stops to shoot are the old, vintage-looking stops that haven’t yet been refurbished.  They offer some great examples of mid-century architecture.”

Between Newton and Wichita on Interstate I-135, you’ll find a rest stop that Ford documented. 

Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford
This particular rest stop’s architectural style has also been documented by the Federal Highway Administration along I70 in Geary County. This photo is from the 1960s.
Photo courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration
Two hours to north of Newton is a rest stop Ford said she thought was very interesting near Homewood.
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford
[The Homewood stop] offered more than one architectural style, which is really rare; usually each stop only has one style of picnic table.  I’d love to know the history behind the Homewood stop - the table with the pointed roof almost looks Asian-inspired.  I also love how each table has its own hand-pump water fountain and grill, all you would need for a great roadside picnic!” 

Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford

She also headed to western Kansas and captured a rest area near Rexford. 
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford

And farther south, in Wright, she found a vintage sign encouraging visitors to not litter.
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford

All of these images and more can be found in Ford’s book , The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside, which was published after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It can be purchased at

Ford’s work has been published in
New York Times MagazineThe Wall Street JournalThe Atlantic and NPR. To see more of her photography check out

Do you have a favorite rest stop? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Motoring Monday: Prairie Museum of Art and History

Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby covers 24 acres and is home to indoor and outdoor exhibits, many temporary exhibits and annual programs as well.
The world-class Kurska Collection contains more than 28,000 items featuring glass, coins, furniture, ceramics, toys, dolls, stamps, clocks, household items, tools, musical instruments, art, silver and jewelry.
Several buildings are on the site including a 1930’s farmstead, sod house, one-room school and the Lone Star Church. The Cooper Barn, the largest barn in Kansas, houses the exhibit "High and Dry: Agriculture on the High Plains" and features farm implements, vehicles and photographs illustrating the history of agriculture in the past 100 years.
Many of the exhibits have hands-on activities, and there are camps during the summer. For more information, go to

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Drinking and driving? Not a good choice

Janell Blaufuss is often reminded of other people’s choices.

It was her father’s choice to go jogging early in the morning before heading to work. It was a driver’s choice to drink and drive. The two choices came together when a drunk driver hit and killed John Blaufuss in December 2005.  

“No Christmas has ever been the same,” Blaufuss said. “We were such a big, happy family who loved to get together. No one had more fun than my father. There are so many places that he is missing.”

Blaufuss spoke at a press event today announcing, “You drink. You drive. You lose.” enforcement campaign at Exploration Place in Wichita. Beginning today, through Monday, Sept. 5, drivers can expect an increase of law enforcement efforts looking for impaired drivers.

A display car, designed to warn against driving under the influence is parked at the Exploration Place in Wichita during a press event announcing the law enforcement campaign, “You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.” 

The Wichita Police Department is one of 150 law enforcement agencies that have partnered with the Kansas Department of Transportation to crack down on impaired drivers.

“Drunk driving in Kansas is one of the deadliest and most often committed crimes,” said Deputy Chief Gavin Seiler of the Wichita Police. “Law enforcement is highly-trained to identify impaired drivers and we will be out in full force to stop them. The safety of Kansans is our primary concern.”

Last year in Kansas, there were 2,291 alcohol-related crashes, with 75 fatalities and 1,300 injuries.

“Driving under the influence is more common than we care to admit,” Kansas DUI Impact Center Executive Director Andrie Krahl said. “It affects everyone on the road. It’s important to plan ahead for a safe ride home. Our judgement is not accurate when we are impaired and negatively impacts our ability to make decisions.”