Monday, August 21, 2017

Motoring Mondays: Kansas Waterfalls

The Deep Creek Waterfall at Pillsbury Crossing
There are numerous beautiful natural waterfalls located throughout the state.

Elk Falls (Elk County)
Infamously known for being the “World’s Largest Ghost town,” it also is home to the Elk River and the Elk Falls.
Overland Park Arboretum (Johnson county)
The waterfall is located in the heart of the park, surrounded by nature walks and trails –a gorgeous and peaceful place to escape the city.
Located next to the vintage Flour Mill, the waterfall is surrounded by a forest of greenery.
Cedar Creek Falls (Shasta County)
In addition to the tranquility of the waterfall, Lake Olathe has great fishing locations directly below the falls.
Soden’s Dam Falls (Lyon County)
The source of this waterfall is from the Cottonwood River. It is also located near the Soden's Grove Bridge, a concrete rainbow arch bridge. 
Chase Lake Falls (Chase County)
Cottonwood Falls may be a rural town but it is also home to beautiful waterfalls.
A hidden gem of Kansas, this waterfall has many surrounding hiking trails and great fishing spots.
Cowley Lake (Cowley County)
Cowley Lake has been on the “Must See” list of AARP, Yahoo and Most Amazing in the World.
Kanopolis Lake and Waterfalls (Ellsworth County)
The lake is located in the Kanoplis State Park, where Dakota sandstone bluffs and Horsethief Canyon caves are also main tourist attractions.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Safety tips for the Great American Solar Eclipse

August 21, or “The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017” as it has been dubbed by some, is sure to be a memorable day as people celebrate this exciting astronomical event.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun, darkening the sky. According to NASA’s website, the sun will be completely obstructed from view for about 2 minutes and 43 seconds. For this reason, Kansas Department of Transportation encourages travelers to take safety precautions and prepare for a safe place to stay and view the event.

Are you planning on traveling to reach the best view of the eclipse in Kansas? According to Topeka Capital-Journal, “In Kansas, the path of totality will cross Hiawatha, Atchison, Leavenworth, and on the very edge, Kansas City. Topeka will experience a partial eclipse, with Holton being on the outermost edge of the path of totality.” The path of totality is the area where the sun will be completely blocked from view.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 200 million people live within driving distance of the eclipse’s path of totality. An increase in traffic and travel time is expected on August 21.

Some safety measures to be aware of are included in the list below. Please read carefully and be safe this August 21 – but don’t forget to enjoy this one-in-a-lifetime experience!

  • Do not pull over to the side of the highway to observe the eclipse. Exit the highway to a safe location to view and/or photograph the event.
  • Do not take photos while driving - KDOT reminds motorists to always maintain full awareness when driving to help maintain safety for all other drivers and pedestrians.
  • Do not wear opaque eclipse glasses while driving.
  • Be prepared for potential traffic congestion before, during, and after the event - While only the northeast corner of the state will be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse, the rest of Kansas will still see part of the astronomical event.
  • Turn on vehicle headlights and do not rely solely on automatic headlights during the eclipse. - Because the sky will be darkened, the use of headlights during the eclipse will be needed.  
  • Pack an emergency travel kit - Check out our blog here for a list of suggested items to include in your safety kit.
  • Plan ahead for fuel needs - Always remember to keep your gas tank full during long trips.

To all our Kansas motorist and travelers: check the weather and plan accordingly - make sure to dress properly and be fully prepared for potential weather incidents when driving long distances. Check for road conditions affected by the weather or construction.

Excited to learn more? Visit the NASA website at to learn more about #SolarEclipse2017.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Work Zone Wednesday: Multi-phase bridge project along I-70

Work continues on the multi-phase bridge project along I-70 in Ellis County. The project is expected to be completely finished in December, weather permitting. 
Work is progressing on a multi-phase bridge project along I-70 in eastern Ellis County.

Both the east and westbound bridges carrying I-70 over Old Highway 40 and the Union Pacific railroad near Walker have undergone major renovations. The project started in fall 2016 with the installation of temporary crossovers in preparation for the bridge deck replacements and concrete patching and overlays that have taken place this spring and summer.

The eastbound portion was completed at the end of July and work is currently taking place on the westbound structures. Work is expected to be finished by the end of October. The temporary crossovers will then be removed and the project completely finished in December.

Bridges Inc. of Newton is the primary contractor with a total project cost of approximately $2 million.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

KDOT deploys first statewide drone traffic management initiative in the nation

The Kansas Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday, Aug. 8, that it is partnering with AirMap, Inc. to deploy the first statewide Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) initiative in the United States.
Through the AirMap UTM technology, Kansas will implement an airport notification and awareness system for drones. This airspace management system will be made available to airports across the state. Participating airports will be able to accept digital flight notices, communicate with drone operators, and prepare for UTM milestones on the horizon, such as automating airspace notification and authorization for commercial drone flights.
“Strong leaders set the pace, and we’re proud to see the rapid growth of Kansas UAS advance to a national level,” stated Lieutenant Governor Jeff Colyer. “This initiative continues a proud tradition of leadership and excellence in aviation.”
Kansas airports, state agencies, and higher education institutions across the state will receive access to the AirMap platform. Training will be offered to support local drone operations and provide safety-critical information.
“This partnership will support a strong foundation for air traffic safety in Kansas,” said Richard Carlson, Secretary of Transportation. “Together, we will foster an environment that allows unmanned systems to contribute to the state economy.”
AirMap is the world’s leading airspace management platform for drones. Millions of drones, hundreds of drone manufacturers and developers, and hundreds of airspace managers and stakeholders rely on AirMap’s airspace intelligence and services to fly safely and communicate with others in low-altitude airspace.

Aviation activity accounts for more than $20.6 billion in economic impact for the state, with over 73% of the world’s general aviation fleet manufactured in Kansas and more than 700 aerospace and aviation companies located here. More than 18 years of active UAS research – including one of the first UAS Bachelor’s degrees in the country – add to Kansas’s industry leadership. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Motoring Mondays: The Riverside Park and Ralph Mitchell Zoo

Monkey Island is a popular exhibit at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo in Independence, KS
The Riverside Park and Ralph Mitchell Zoo is located in Independence.
     Since the early 20th century, the Riverside Park has been an asset to the community, with amusement attractions and beautiful landscapes.
     The park also features the Ralph Mitchell Zoo, which was added to the park in 1925. It features numerous animal exhibits, most notably, Monkey Island, which was famous for being the birth place of Miss Able, the first non-communist monkey launched into space in 1959.
     It’s a great place for field trips, wedding receptions or just a fun place to go with family or friends to spend the day in nature.
     The park is open every day from 9 a.m. thru 7 p.m.

Bears can be seen at the Ralph Mitchell Zoo in Independence, KS
 To learn more about this historical park and zoo, visit Riverside Park and Ralph Mitchell Zoo.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Class is in session: Back to school safety tips

For many students across Kansas, the start of the school year is approaching. Motorists are encouraged to remember that students will soon be walking or biking to and from school, as well as entering or exiting buses and vehicles. Give yourself extra travel time and pay attention to help improve safety for everyone.

According to the National Safety Council, more children are hit by cars near schools than any other location. If you are dropping your child off at school, make sure you understand your school’s drop off and pick-up procedure.

When sharing the road with young pedestrians, it is important to keep the following in mind:
  • No matter where the pedestrians may be, always use extreme caution. Young students may not understand all the traffic laws and it’s up to motorists to avoid hitting them.
  • If a vehicle is stopped for pedestrians, don’t pass.
  • Use your eyes, and look out for children who may be playing in playgrounds, parks and residential areas.
  • When flashers are blinking in a school zone, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the intersection or crosswalk.
  • Don’t block crosswalks when stopped at a red light or preparing to turn. Forcing pedestrians to go around you is dangerous and puts them in the path of oncoming traffic.

Bicycling is one of the most popular ways that children travel to school. On certain roads, most bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. Unfortunately, children riding bikes can be unpredictable and young bicyclists may not understand all the laws surrounding traffic safety. 

Because bikes are smaller than a normal vehicle, the following should be considered:

  • When passing a bicyclist, do so slowly and leave about 3 feet between the bicyclist and your vehicle.
  • Wait for riders coming from the opposite direction to pass before you turn left.
  • If you are turning right and a bicyclist is behind you, it better to let the bicyclist go through the intersection first before you finish making your turn.
  • Always use your blinkers to communicate with all forms of vehicles, especially bicyclists.
  • Young bikers can turn in front of cars with little to no warning and they may not be paying attention. Always stay alert.
  • When traveling in school zones, expect the unexpected. Check for bikes coming from behind parked cars and drive ways.

Some children rely on the school bus for transportation. If you find yourself behind a school bus, allow for greater distance between yourself and the larger vehicle. Doing so will give you more time to stop.

It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped and waiting for children to board or depart the vehicle. With that in mind, there are more things to remember when sharing the road with a school bus:

  • Stop far enough away from a school bus to allow the children to enter or depart safely. A 10-foot area around the bus can be the most dangerous for children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and stop arm is extending traffic MUST stop.
  • Be alert! Children can be unpredictable.

Parents or guardians of children should try to teach students ways they can improve safety during the school year and any time they need to interact with vehicles.

We wish all students who are starting their new school year the best of luck! And remember to always look left, then right and left again before crossing the street.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Work Zone Wednesday: Modernization project on K-7 in Cherokee County

Work on the final leg of the modernization project in Cherokee County. 

Work is progressing on the final leg of the T-WORKS modernization project on K-7 in Cherokee County. The entire improvement begins at the U.S. 400/K-7 junction at Cherokee and continues south for 11 miles to the U.S. 69/U.S. 160/K-7 junction at Columbus.

The project started in 2016 with the reconstruction of four miles between U.S. 400 and K-102. The southern seven-mile-long section, from K-102 south to Columbus, closed for construction in early June. The highway’s driving surface is being widened to 44 feet, with 12-foot lanes and 10-foot shoulders. Project activity includes major modifications to the existing highway alignment, grouting old mine shafts underneath the roadway, and bridge repairs.

At this point in construction the contractor is grading and building simple span bridges and box culverts on the closed section. The official detour route for K-7 traffic is signed along U.S. 160, U.S. 69/400 and U.S. 400.

Work on the final leg of the modernization project in Cherokee County. 

KDOT awarded the K-7 construction contract of $35.4 million to Koss Construction Company of Topeka. The road work is expected to be finished and K-7 reopened to traffic by mid-August 2018.