Monday, February 3, 2020

KDOT’s Cost Share Program accepting applications for spring 2020



After a highly successful first round of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Cost Share Program last fall, a second round of applications are now being accepted for spring 2020. Applications will be accepted from Feb. 3 through April 15.

The Cost Share Program is designed to provide financial assistance that leverages state funding with local and private funding for projects related to economic development as well as job growth and retention. It will provide funding to local entities for construction projects that improve safety, increase the total transportation investment and help both rural and urban areas of the state improve their transportation system.

A minimum of 15% non-state cash match is required. Additional consideration will be given to project applications that commit more than the minimum required match amount. A portion of this funding is part of the remaining one-time $50 million approved this fiscal year by the Legislature and Gov. Laura Kelly, which requires a 25% minimum match.

All transportation projects are eligible, including roadway (on and off the state system), rail, airport, bicycle/pedestrian and public transit. They must be construction projects that address an important transportation need such as promoting safety, improving access or mobility, improving condition or relieving congestion. Selection criteria will include consideration of projects that meet program objectives, eligibility categories and requirements. Geographic distribution will also be considered during project selection.

An application form and a fact sheet on the Cost Share Program can be found at www.KSDot.org or with the links below:

Thursday, January 30, 2020

KDOT announces Kansas airport improvement projects




Topeka – Twenty-three projects have been selected for Kansas Airport Improvement Program (KAIP) funding for the purpose of planning, constructing or rehabilitating public use general aviation airports, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.
KAIP receives $5 million annually through the T-WORKS transportation program and requires airport sponsors to share in the project costs by paying a minimum of 5% of the total project. The KDOT’s Division of Aviation, which manages the program, considered 113 project applications this year with a combined total project value of more than $27 million.
The selection board identified $4.2 million of improvements to address the top 15% most impactful airport improvements across the state. 
“Aviation represents $20.6 billion in total economic impact for the state of Kansas,” said Bob Brock, KDOT Director of Aviation. “We’ve assessed the remaining $23.5 million of needs and are working with communities to identify best-value strategic improvements through KAIP.”   


You can see the full list of communities here:

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

A slice of KDOT life: fighting frozen fog


This time of year, KDOT crews are busy trying to stay ahead of the weather.
Here’s a snapshot of a recent battle against frozen fog.


Christy DeSantis, Equipment Operator, back in the Hutchinson shop after spraying brine in advance of frozen fog.

It’s Friday morning, Jan. 24, at the District Five offices in Hutchinson, and supervisors see that the forecast calls for frozen fog that night and into the next morning. Extreme humidity, left by a barrage of rain and snow, is about to meet freezing temperatures.

So across much of south central Kansas, District Five crews set out to lay down a layer of brine – saltwater – a melting agent to help keep an icy glaze from forming.


They focus on what KDOT crews call “the criticals” -- the bridge decks that tend to freeze faster because they are not insulated by the ground. And the curves, crossovers and 
turnarounds -- where angling tires are more apt to lose traction on slick spots.

Dave Alexander, Equipment Operator Senior, on a brine run on K-96 between Hutchinson and Wichita.

So that morning, in just one part of the multi-county effort, two KDOT trucks and their drivers work in tandem to spray brine in both directions on K-96 between Hutchinson and Wichita.

The frozen-fog fighters: Dave Alexander, Equipment Operator Senior, with about 20 years of service to KDOT, and Christy DeSantis, Equipment Operator, with about two years of experience.

They each drive a big orange truck with flashing lights, one with a 2,000-gallon brine tank, the other with 1,600 gallons. She takes the inside lane. He, the outside. She goes ahead. He stays behind. Traffic passes in between.

Here and there, they stop and turn to catch the crossover and turnaround lanes.
Using controls in their toasty cabs, they spray brine intermittently as they roll along.

In Alexander’s truck, a monitor shows the air temperature, 33 degrees, and road temperature, 39. It’s around 11 a.m. All is calm. They keep working methodically.

You can see dull-white parallel lines, long ribbons down the highway, where the brine nozzles have sprayed directly down.

It’s all part of an effort to keep motorists from spinning out.

The crews do what they can.

The rest is up to Mother Nature – and the motorists.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tips for preventing static electricity fires at the pump

Each season brings their own set of obstacles to overcome, especially when it comes to transportation. In the summer, we deal with extreme heat that can wreak havoc on vehicles. Likewise, there are some certain things to remember to look out for in the colder months as well. Each week we will discuss a winter transportation challenge that could be overlooked. This week’s topic is shocking: 




Static electricity while fueling up your car: static electricity is an electric charge caused by an imbalance of electrons on the surface of a material. For example, static electricity is that little shock you feel when you put on your coat or what makes your hair stand on up after you take off a hat. 

Static Electricity poses a real threat when someone is refueling their vehicle and they don’t take steps to release the static electricity buildup after exiting. An unknowing person can have static electricity buildup, and upon touching the gas pump, a spark ignites the gasoline vapors around the nozzle and a flash fire is created. The fire will continue to burn until the fuel supply is cut off. Serious injury and property damage can occur in these situations. 
According to a Purdue University report There are ways that you can prevent static electricity fires while at the pump: 

1. Turn your vehicle off when you refuel your car.

2. Do not return to your vehicle while refueling. This is how most static electricity fires begin. Drivers re-enter their vehicles for various reasons, and when they depart to reach for the gas nozzle, they don’t discharge the static electricity buildup.

3. If you must return to your vehicle, you can discharge the buildup by touching the outside metal portion of your vehicle — if it’s far enough away from the gas tank. 

According to the report, if you find yourself in a situation where a flash fire occurs while at the pump, don’t panic. Simply leave the nozzle in the vehicle fill pipe. Make sure everyone is out of the vehicle and alert the station attendant immediately. They can shut off the pumps with emergency controls. 

Always be aware of your surroundings when refueling, when in doubt, just touch the metal part of your vehicle before reaching for the nozzle, especially when its cold and dry outside

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Winds of change: Kansas personalized plates get new design





A new design is breezing its way onto Kansas personalized license plates starting this month. The design, “Powering the Future,” features a series of turbines set against a Kansas sunrise and pays tribute to the state’s history and status of embracing wind energy. Kansas is ranked number one in the nation for wind energy production.

The Kansas Department of Revenue began issuing the plates on Jan. 15. Customers with the 2015 “Sunflower State” personalized plate may retain their plates as a keepsake, but must switch to the new design if they want to keep their current personalization. Notifications will be mailed 45 days prior to their regular registration due date. To order the new “Powering the Future Plate,” visit your local county treasurer’s office with your current registration receipt, photo ID and proof of insurance. Cost of the plates is $45.50 plus normal registration fees and taxes.

Citizens with standard vehicle Kansas tags will not be affected by the design change.

In addition to offering personalized license plates, the Department of Revenue also offers more than 40 distinctive license plate options, covering interests from collegiate pride to cancer awareness and more.

Most of the distinctive plates are available to everyone, but some have requirements such as being a veteran or firefighter. Customers pay a one-time issuance fee for the plate and then an annual contribution to the plate’s cause or organization, in addition to the standard registration fees and property taxes.

According to the Department of Revenue, the top five currently issued distinctive plates are:

In God We Trust                               18,160
Kansas State University                 12,054
University of Kansas                        6,504
Breast Cancer Awareness             4,465
Pittsburg State University             3,687

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

10 ways to protect your ride from wild winter weather




Americans drive over 13,476 miles per year.  That’s over 1,000 mile per month.  And while Americans usually drive less during the winter months (January – March), many of those miles are trekking through snow and ice and winter weather that can wreak havoc on a vehicle.  Experts say that protecting a vehicle from the inside out is the best defense against winter weather.

 According to DMV.org, while today’s vehicles are designed to handle inclement weather, drivers still need to take some basic steps to protect their vehicle before and during those colder months:
1.       Check your fluids! Replace or refill if needed.
2.       Check your tires! Are they winter-weather ready? Consider snow tires depending on where you live;
3.       Thoroughly inspect battery, cables, terminals.
4.       Pack an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, blanket, gloves, hat, cat litter, sand, ice scraper, small shovel and snacks;
5.       Keep glycerin de-icer handy in case your locks freeze or you need to de-ice your windows and mirrors. It can also help if your locks get frozen.

The outside of your vehicle is often overlooked during colder months.  However, it’s just as important to keep the outside clean and protected during cold weather as during warmer weather.  AAA recommends taking the following steps to protect your car during these snowy winter months:

1.       Wax your car before the winter months
2.       Wash your car at least every 10-14 days during the snowy winter months and on the first snow-free day following a snow event if possible.
3.       Don’t drive through deep snow.  This can really pack into the undercarriage of your car;
4.       Avoid large puddles of water.  Steer around them if you can.
5.       Seal your undercarriage to keep water and salt out.

If you haven’t taken time to safeguard your vehicle yet this winter, it’s not too late. Take time to perform basic maintenance checks and stow emergency supplies in your vehicle before you head out on your next road trip.   And don’t ignore your car’s exterior finish just because it’s cold outside. Yourmechanic.com suggests washing your car once temperatures are in the upper 30’s or 40’s.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

We got the beet! 7 facts about beet juice on highways


You don't have to work for the Kansas Department of Transportation to know we use beet juice to help battle ice on highways during the winter.

But could you pass a pop quiz on it? Do you know how to explain why KDOT crews use sugar beet juice to fight wintry road conditions? 

Think of it this way: The sugar in sugar beet juice offers sweet benefits for ice-fighting efforts on the highways, especially when pre-treating trouble areas like bridges, which tend to ice up faster than non-elevated pavement. There’s a chemistry at work, says Jim Frye, Field Maintenance Manager/Emergency Coordinator with KDOT.

Frye recently gave beet and brine application training to south central Kansas snow-and-ice crews in Larned and Wichita. 

Jim Frye talks with District Five employees during beet/brine application training on Jan. 14 in Wichita.


Here are seven points -- and a little science lesson -- from the teacher that could help you pass the quiz and explain it to others:


  • Beet juice added to brine (saltwater) is especially useful with temperatures from 15 down to 5 degrees. That’s because beet juice, as Frye says, “slows the process of water molecules forming into (ice) crystals. Come to find out, sugar helps the water molecules from freezing solid down in these lower temperatures. It keeps it slushy, which is what we want.”
  • Because beet juice is sticky, it holds ice-fighting brine to pavement longer.
  • Other advantages: By using a mix of beet and brine, it takes less brine, so it lowers the corrosive effect of the salt in brine – which helps cut down on road and bridge repair. It also reduces the amount of salt seeping into the environment.
  • Does beet juice look brownish and get on vehicles? Yes, but it will wash off with water.
  • KDOT uses beet juice to pretreat or treat highways at more than 20 locations around the state.
  • KDOT has used beet juice for about five years now.
  • The beet juice comes from an Iowa supplier. 

Remember that crews work hard to clear Kansas roads. Make sure you give them plenty of room to work, and check www.kandrive.org for updated road conditions.