Thursday, December 1, 2016

Avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning this winter

Chilly weather is setting in and the thought of waking up earlier to warm up your vehicle before work can leave many feeling cold.

If you choose to warm up your car it is important to do so safely. Before you turn that key, be aware of your surroundings. If you are in an enclosed place with no air circulation you could be putting yourself at risk from carbon monoxide gas exposure.
Also known as “the silent killer” carbon monoxide (or CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be dangerous if precautions are not taken to avoid poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning a year. In that same time frame, more than 20,000 visit emergency rooms and 4,000 are hospitalized.

Symptoms from CO poisoning can be easily confused with the flu. The most common symptoms include: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, chest pain, confusion and vomiting.

Here are some ways you can prevent CO exposure while you are operating or inside a vehicle:
  •  Most drivers understand that starting your car in an enclosed garage is not a good idea. But starting a car with a garage attached to your home could put you in danger as well.
  • Similarly, never start your car inside a garage, even if the doors are open. It is best to back out and close the garage door before you start your car. 
  • Be sure to have your exhaust system checked by a mechanic every year. A small leak in the system could cause CO to build up in your car.
  • Clear the tailpipe of any ice or snow during inclement weather. If the exhaust pipe is blocked, CO could build up in your car as well.
  • Keyless ignition vehicles are growing in popularity. They should always be checked to make sure they are turned off. The car could still be running, even if the keys are not inside.
  • Keep the doors locked, and keep children away from the keys. Never leave a child unattended where they could have access to the car and never leave them inside a car alone.
It is a busy time of year, and mistakes do happen. It is a good idea to purchase a CO detector for you home just in case. Most injuries and deaths occur while the victims are sleeping.

For more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your home or work check out the CDC’s safety guidelines here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Johnson County Gateway completion celebrated with ribbon cutting

The ribbon was officially cut yesterday on the mega Johnson County Gateway project by distinguished event speakers (from left to right in photo above):  
KDOT Acting Secretary Richard Carlson; Kansas Governor Sam Brownback; Kansas Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer; FHWA Deputy Administrator David Kim;  
Johnson County Commissioner Ed Eilert; City of Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm; City of Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland; and Gateway Interchange Constructors Bill Clarkson

The large, complex Johnson County Gateway project, expected to fully open early next week, was celebrated by local, state and federal officials yesterday in Lenexa.

The ribbon-cutting at Crowne Plaza Hotel marked the substantial completion of Kansas’ first design-build project. The $288 million Gateway has been under construction for 2½ years at the convergence of Interstates 35 and 435 and K-10.

“The Gateway project will be a means of improved travel for tens of thousands of commuters. With the addition of 56 new highway lane miles and more than 27 new and rehabbed bridges, the project provides a conduit for increased economic development, safe travel and the movement of freight,” said Gov. Sam Brownback.

More than 150 people were in attendance to celebrate the completion of KDOT's first design-build project.
The Johnson County Gateway is set to open early next week to travelers. 
The Gateway is the state’s first major design-build project, a construction method authorized under the T-WORKS transportation program. Under this approach, the design-build team works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services. This differs from the traditional design-bid-build method.

KDOT, along with the project management consultant team from HNTB, worked with Gateway Interchange Constructors, the design-builders who constructed the complex expansion project. GIC is a joint venture led by Kansas City, Mo.-based Clarkson Construction Co., which partnered with Kiewit Infrastructure Co. Additional key members of the team included design firms HDR Engineering and George Butler Associates.

“The design-build contracting approach allows states to deliver projects more quickly and more cost-effectively,” FHWA Deputy Administrator David S. Kim said. “Through our Every Day Counts initiative, the FHWA encourages innovations such as design build that save time and money for U.S. taxpayers.” 

More than 230,000 vehicles travel the Gateway corridor daily.

“With the number of vehicles expected to grow to 380,000 by 2040, drivers will now experience commutes with improved efficiency, decreased travel delays and safer travel through the I-435/I-35/K-10 interchange,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Richard Carlson.

For some highlights from yesterday's event check out this video:

For more information, visit the project website: and check out the video below for a closer look at this mega project.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What lies beneath: Preserving history

Ever wonder what lies under your feet?  For people living in Ellinwood, they already know the answer.

Sean Kelly, an Engineering Technician Senior from Great Bend goes down one of the stairways into the tunnel beneath the City of Ellinwood.

Running beneath the town is an abandoned underground city that was once home to barber shops, brothels, gambling joints, and a harness store. All these businesses were founded in the late 1800s (around 1887) and are connected by a series of well-built tunnels that are still open to tourists. 
One of the tunnel's stairways leading down into the city. 
KDOT began work on U.S. 56 in August and last month, KDOT staff had the opportunity to visit the underground city. During their tour, employees were able to document the condition and structural integrity of the tunnels.  KDOT has a goal of preserving the historic site as well as limiting any impact that construction could make.

While construction on the $16.9 million U.S. 56 bridge replacement and four-lane reconstruction project gets underway, there is always a chance that more tunnels could be unearthed. Regardless, this nearly 130-year-old city will still exist below the surface. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Winter ready Wednesdays: Salt Brine

Winter is coming. Despite the mild autumn weather the majority of the state is still experiencing, snow and ice will most likely arrive in our forecast. Fortunately, KDOT has an effective tool to help combat slick roads: Salt brine

Salt brine is a proactive approach to battling inclement weather. Last year, KDOT used approximately 5 million gallons to prepare road surfaces for snow and ice. Each of the 112 sub areas in Kansas has at least 1,000-10,000 gallon storage tanks.  But how is this salty mixture created and what determines how and when it is used?

Salt Brine is typically created by filling a mixing tank with rock salt and then adding water. 

The water then percolates through the rock salt. 

The salt/water mixture overflows into a holding tank, where it is measured with a hydrometer. If the brine reads 23% salt (or 91 % saturation) it is ready to be used on the roads.

Salt Brine is applied to the road surface. It is most effective when it has a chance to stick to the road after the water evaporates. 
KDOT doesn’t rely on salt brine for every weather event. It is most effective when it has a chance to stick to the roads after the brine water evaporates. If there is a rain changing to snow weather event, using salt brine wouldn’t work as effectively, the precipitation would wash it away.

Because the salt brine is only the most effective until temperatures reach 25 degrees, some areas around the state are starting to use sugar beet juice mixed with the salt brine. Beet juice, when added to the salt brine can help melt ice at near-zero degree temperatures.

As the winter months move in, KDOT will use a variety of methods to clear roads and infrastructure and help Kansans travel safely.  For the next several Wednesdays, we will share with you more ways that KDOT works to keep Kansas moving during inclement weather.

For up to date road conditions, check or dial 51

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving travel tips

Family, friends and food are great reasons for anyone to take to the road during the Thanksgiving holiday. Studies show that this is the busiest travel time of the year. In order to make it to the dinner table on time, make sure you are prepared by following these tips:

If your destination is far away, make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive. Have the vehicle’s fluids, windshield wipers and tires inspected prior to hitting the road.

Watch the skies. Bad weather can hit suddenly in parts of the country. Take caution when traveling in inclement weather.

Know where you are going before you leave.  Don’t rely solely on GPS.   Print out maps and directions, GPS service may become intermittent and having a backup is never a bad idea.

Make sure everyone is buckled in safely.

Keep your cell phone charged at all times in case of emergencies. If it is not being used for directions, make sure it is safely tucked away. Distracted driving can ruin your dinner plans.

Have an emergency kit handy. Make sure the contents include:
  • Battery powered Rradio
  • Flashlight
  • Blankets for everyone in your car
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • Maps
  • Tire repair kit

Don’t drink and drive and know your limits. If you are tired, upset or ill it is not a good idea to drive. Take a break if needed.

Give yourself extra time to make it to your destination. More travelers on the road mean more traffic congestion. Be patient, the winter holidays are right around the corner and no one appreciates a Grinch.

For up-to-date road conditions check out

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday addresses Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week

Last December, we shared a chilling account of a traffic accident in Montana and the dangers emergency responders face while they assist at the scene of an accident or roadside emergency. This video could be hard to watch but the message is important.

November 14-18th is Incident Response Awareness Week. Every year, hundreds of emergency responders, including EMTs, firefighters, police officers, transportation and towing service providers
, are struck or killed on the job in secondary crashes. These crashes result in increased risk, traffic congestion and impact on communities nationwide. 

A majority of these secondary crashes could be avoided if distracted driving were

They have our back, do we have theirs? Watch out for responders at traffic incidents: Lives depend on it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Oh Deer Part II: What to do in a car/deer crash

The holidays are approaching quickly, and travel across the state is expected to increase. More travelers could mean an increase in deer/vehicle crashes. 

Last month, we provided a few tips on how to be alert for deer and avoid a collision with one of these animals.

Unfortunately, because deer can be unpredictable or because weather conditions are not favorable, crashes involving vehicles and deer do happen. What can you do if you find yourself in this situation?

  • If you encounter a situation where a deer suddenly jumps in front of your vehicle it is better to hit the deer rather than swerve to avoid it. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, more serious crashes happen as a result of swerving away from the animal. 
  • After a crash, slow down and pull onto the shoulder. Turn on your emergency flashers
  • DO NOT get out of your vehicle unless you have to. Staying inside the vehicle and buckled up is your best protection against a secondary crash.
  • If you must exit your vehicle, wait for traffic to clear and stand as far from the road as possible.
  • Do not try to remove the deer from the roadway unless you are sure it is dead. If the animal is still alive, it could be dangerous. 
  •  Call 911 or *47 and tell the dispatcher where you are and if the deer is in the road.
  •  Don't worry about the animal, law enforcement will have it removed. 

For more information on deer/vehicle safety click here