Thursday, October 17, 2019

Kansas Bicycle Map Photo Contest now underway



Kansas is home to many incredible views and opportunities to see some of the greatest sunsets in the world, but have you ever seen Kansas up close while riding a bike? If you have or if you plan to in the near future, we want to see what you see when you travel Kansas on two wheels! Our first Kansas Bicycle Photo contest is currently underway, and we need to hear from you!

Comprehensive Transportation Planning Manager Matthew Messina said that the best thing about biking in Kansas is that the state has plenty to offer, whether you’re a commuter, a recreational rider or even a racer.

Kansas has a wide range of terrain and scenic landscapes that help make biking fun and enjoyable every time you ride,” Messina said.

KDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Planning is responsible for producing the State Transportation maps, including the Kansas Bicycle Map.

“The current issue of the Kansas Bicycle Map is for 2018-2019, which means an updated version will become available in Spring 2020 for 2020-2021—and this map needs a new cover” Messina said. 

 “We wanted to open the opportunity to Kansans to submit their favorite photos of biking in our great state and to be featured on our widely distributed map. For example, KDOT has distributed nearly 25,000 copies of the 2018-2019 Kansas Bicycle Map to 24 states—that’s pretty solid publicity.”

The contest is open to Kansans of all ages and abilities, from all walks of life who enjoy biking or taking photos of bicyclists. KDOT is looking for any photo that captures the spirit, fun and adventure of biking in Kansas. Any Kansas resident is eligible to enter if they complete the waiver and release forms that are part of the electronic submission process.

Participants in the contest can enter by visiting https://kdotapp.ksdot.org/BPC/ and uploading up to two photos per contestant. Entries are due by Nov. 1.

Want to learn more about biking in Kansas?

KDOT provides a lot of information related to biking on its “Walking and Bicycling in Kansas” webpage: http://www.ksdot.org/burRail/bike/default.asp

And since biking is major tourism attraction, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism has a lot of information related to cycling activities around the state on their cycling webpage:
https://www.travelks.com/things-to-do/sports-recreation/cycling/

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

KanDrive improvements will help motorists receive road condition information



Numerous improvements have been made to the Kansas Department of Transportation’s KanDrive website that provides motorists continuously updated conditions of highways across the state.

“The website received more than 2 million views last winter,” said Alan Spicer, Assistant Bureau Chief in Transportation Planning. “It’s important to keep the traveling public notified of current and changing road conditions so they can make informed travel decisions.”

The main page at www.KanDrive.org has been streamlined to make it easier to begin viewing details. Just click on the map to open the tabs at the top of the page, which have been expanded. The first tab, Travel Alerts, gives a comprehensive list of incident closures, road work closures and weather closures.

The other tabs allow motorists to view several maps and include –


Incidents/weather – shows road incidents, flooding, fog, blowing dust, law enforcement;


Winter conditions – this map becomes the main map on the website if any highways are affected by snow or ice;



Construction – shows that are planned, active and have closed a section of highway. Also, people can click on the map location for details on the project, and an estimated start date has been added;


Cameras/signs – shows images and live feeds at certain locations and signs with messages;



Truck parking – shows locations and availability of parking spots for truck drivers.



This information is also available on mobile devices. A map icon has been added to the top of the mobile website to assist users in opening the page.




“Helping motorists receive a variety of information before beginning their journey will give them the knowledge needed to plan their routes or even delay their start time to when the situation improves,” Spicer said. “Being informed of road conditions is an important tool to have when making travel choices.”


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Kansas kids win poster/video contests, focus on improving traffic safety



Von Woleslagel of Hutchinson's poster was a statewide winner in the 11-13 year-old age group.  

Statewide winners of two contests have been announced as part of the national safety campaign Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day.

For the poster contest – Quincy Coup of Hope, Emma Kuhlman of Topeka and Von Woleslagel of Hutchinson are the statewide winners. Each student was selected as a regional winner and will receive a bicycle donated by the Kansas Turnpike Authority and a helmet donated by Safe Kids Kansas at presentations at their schools. A total of 434 Kansas kids ages 5 to 13 participated.

Emma Kuhlman of Topeka, was the statewide winner in the 8-10 year-old age group. 
As statewide winners in their age categories, they will also receive a Kindle Fire tablet from the KTA, a $50 gift card from the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas and movie passes from AAA Kansas along with a $200 donation to the school, class or booster club. 

Quincy Coup of Hope's poster won in the 5-7 year-old age group. 


For the video contest – Students from Lansing High School won first place. They will receive first choice of an iPad, GoPro or DJI Osmo Pocket along with a $500 donation to the school, class or booster club, donated by the KTA.

Students from Eudora captured second place, and students from Shawnee Mission West High School placed third in the video contest. Each will receive one of the remaining prizes listed above. There were 35 entries from teens across the state. To see the winning videos, go to https://bit.ly/2ANyoHk


Organizations that work together on this safety campaign include the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Turnpike Authority, Kansas Highway Patrol, Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, AAA of Kansas, Kansas Contractors Association and the Federal Highway Administration – Kansas division.

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day is a nationwide effort to increase roadway safety and reduce all traffic fatalities. For more information and a list of all the winners across Kansas, go to www.ksdot.org and click on the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day information.

Monday, October 14, 2019

From highways to quilts: KDOT employee uses engineering skills to design and create

Joyce Muhlenbruch meets with customers at her quilt shop, Birds of a Feather in Dodge City.
By Lisa Knoll,
Southwest Kansas 
Public Affairs Manager

Joyce Muhlenbruch, KDOT’s Area Construction Engineer in Dodge City, was recently featured in the Dodge City Daily Globe, but it wasn’t for her ability to highway engineering skills  It was for her ability and talent for designing and engineering breathtaking quilts.

Muhlenbruch says there were always quilting and sewing projects in their home when she was growing up in Hanoverton, Ohio.  She learned to sew by the time she was five and was quilting with the church ladies by the time she was in middle school. 

However, she didn’t make her first quilt until she was expecting her first child.  She decided to make a Raggedy Ann and Andy quilt with a denim back, which she hand-pieced and quilted herself. 
“I wanted to give him a gift that was part of me.  That denim was so hard to quilt.  My fingers hurt,” she remembers. 


When her second son was born five weeks early, she had to hand tie his quilt to finish it for him.  Muhlenbruch continued quilting as her boys grew up, primarily making baby quilts for friends, but always found herself changing or adding something to the pattern to make it uniquely hers. 

A quilt designed by Mulenbruch is
on display.
In 2010, Muhlenbruch accepted her current position at KDOT and moved to Dodge City.  Her boys had grown up and her husband, Michael remained in Winfield for two years wrapping up business.  With time on her hands, Muhlenbruch spent evenings at the sewing machine in her Dodge City apartment.  She joined Miss Kitty’s Quilt Guild and eventually began spending her Saturdays helping at Country Quiltin’ By Design, a quilt shop, in Plains.  When the opportunity to buy the shop became a possibility, Muhlenbruch and her sister, Leslie, began to consider how this could work, eventually buying and moving the shop to Dodge City.

Now located at Eryn’s Downtown Center at 509 N. 2nd Ave. in historic Dodge City, the shop has been re-named Birds of a Feather Quilt Shop and is home to over 800 bolts of high-quality cotton fabric, thread, notion, patterns and a longarm quilting machine. 

 The shop also features quilts for sale and plenty of room for quilting classes and retreats.  An inviting seating area overlooks Second Avenue, offering customers a comfortable place to sit and contemplate the next quilt or just share tips and tricks.

Muhlenbruch stands in front of her storefront in Dodge City.


Leslie handles the store during the week while Muhlenbruch is busy with her KDOT job.  Muhlenbruch joins Leslie in the evenings and on the weekends and can usually be found at the longarm machine working on customers’ projects. As the only Quilts of Valor shop in Dodge City, Muhlenbruch hopes to be able to make one Quilt of Valor quilt each month.
Muhlenbruch says, “The best part of quilting is the engineering of the quilt. It’s more fun than engineering roads.  I get to use my creativity to adapt and design patterns.”

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Three lives lost because of not wearing seat belts


By Kay Hendrix

Kay Hendrix and her son.
It was November 27, 2002, during Thanksgiving weekend. I was seven months pregnant with my son, and I lost a very dear friend. Not only did I lose her, but we also lost her mother and her middle son. All of them perished while traveling to Phoenix, AZ, to visit her youngest son. 
While still in Kansas, they failed to stop at an intersection and were hit by an anhydrous ammonia truck and never made it out of the state. All three were gone so suddenly, breaking my heart and our close-knit community into a billion pieces. She was the closest thing that I had to an older sister, she was a great listener and a wonderful friend that I still miss dearly to this day.
The accident cost all three of them their lives, because none of them were wearing their seat belts. The crash threw all them from the vehicle and mangled their bodies to the point that they were unrecognizable, resulting in closed casket funerals. 
When the family found out, they were afraid of telling me … I was so far along in an already touchy pregnancy, they thought that I might lose the baby. I don’t honestly remember a lot about the days that followed other than the great sense of loss and sadness that I felt. 
The following weeks were a blur, but then my son arrived, which brought another round of sadness. She wasn’t there to celebrate his birth, listen to my concerns or even guide me through being a first-time mother. In the months that followed, I realized that I felt her presence with me every day…especially every time I got into the car. I was almost able to hear her say, “put your seat belt on, didn’t you learn from me?”
It is because of that accident and the loss of her and her family that pushed me into the work I do. I believe very strongly that promoting safety in the motor vehicle industry allows me to reach people and hopefully make a difference. 
If one more person understands how important safety on the highways is, that is one more person making it home to their family and friends. One more person that doesn’t have to feel the heartache of losing someone so tragically. 

Kay Hendrix is the Director of Safety for the Kansas Motor Carriers Association.

  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Emergency responders need your attention


During my 10-plus years at KDOT, I’ve seen a lot of close calls where one of our workers has almost been hit. I’ve also seen a number of close calls as a longtime volunteer fireman and emergency medical responder in my community.
Too many times when we’re directing traffic around a crash scene, I see drivers spending more time rubbernecking at the vehicles involved and what the emergency workers are doing than paying attention to the road. I’ve had to push people out of the way of an oncoming driver who didn’t see them because they were distracted by what was going on. Emergency workers always have to be looking over their shoulders constantly because you just never know what people are going to do.
I can remember one incident where a driver passing by the scene was driving entirely too fast. Luckily, law enforcement was able to pull them over. I’m pretty sure there was a ticket written that day.
It’s always challenging when we work crashes on dirt roads. Traffic usually must be stopped for the safety of the emergency responders because cars coming through and kicking up dust makes it really hard to see us. Wrecks in places where we can’t park close to the scene and have to move back and forth across the road are also difficult. If possible, we always try to park on the same side as the scene. But if we can’t, we’re constantly watching for passing traffic, especially when moving the patient from the scene to the ambulance.
The next time you come up on a crash scene, I hope you will do your part to help keep emergency workers and first responders safe. Slow down, pay attention and move over. Lives depend on it.
 

Jamie Reimer is an Equipment Operator Senior with KDOT in Phillipsburg.

 

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

No time to react in a crash


By Howard Reece
On a grey, overcast August morning a few years ago as I was traveling to work at dawn I was surprised when, from out of nowhere, a deer suddenly appeared in front of my car, slightly to the right side. My instant reaction was to swerve to my left to try to miss the deer. I understand that the appropriate reaction when confronting an animal on the road is to slow down and stay in my lane, but I swerved nonetheless. As quick as I swerved, the passenger side window on my car exploded getting glass all over the interior of my car. 
Traveling 55 mph, this all happened faster than you can say “deer/swerve/boom (window exploding),” because it did happen that fast.  I immediately pulled over to assess the damages.  I apparently hit the deer with my right-side rearview mirror when I swerved, breaking it off and slamming the mirror into the passenger side window, causing the window to explode.  The mirror was dangling from the door by the electrical wires which were still attached to both. 
The deer apparently survived because I never did see it again, and I did look for it.  I’m certain that the mirror hit the deer in the head because it was facing that direction when I saw it in front of my car, and it would not have had time to change course.
I always wear my seat belt, so that was not an issue in this instance, nor was it needed to keep me restrained.  But this story makes me think of how fast things can happen on the highway and of another time on Oct.  23, 2007, when a situation occurred as fast, if not faster, and much more harrowing.
On this day at 1:45 p.m., I was southbound on K-232 about one mile west of the Wilson Lake dam.  The highway curves back to the east here and goes over the dam.  At this point also is the intersection of Russell County Road # 203, which comes up from the south and hooks into K-232, mid-curve.  It was a beautiful, bright, clear fall afternoon and was a very pleasant ride. 
Suddenly, an on-coming pickup pulling a trailer, both loaded with sandblasting and painting equipment and materials is turning right in front of me to go south on the county road.  The operator of the pickup was in the business of painting water towers for rural water districts and was looking back to the south at the road he was getting ready to go down. 
This time there was no time to react.  I was driving 65 mph and I do clearly remember choosing to close my eyes (because I did not want to see what was about to happen) and attempting to hit the brake pedal which was more of a reactionary act, but an act of futility none-the-less.  I cannot express accurately just how quickly this occurred.  There was no time to swerve!
After the dust had settled, I found myself sitting in my little state-owned SUV, all in one piece, and very much alive.  After a few seconds of collecting my thoughts I picked up my cell phone and called the KHP Dispatch, who I had programmed into my phone and told them what had just happened.  I then got out to survey the situation. 
The right front quarter panel of my vehicle impacted the pickup on its right rear quarter panel, separating the pickup from the trailer and spinning the pickup three quarters of a turn, with all of it ending up off the highway.  From what I can determine, that was the “softest” spot I could have impacted.  If I would have hit the front corner of the pickup or the front corner of the trailer it would have been a different story.  As heavy as the three-quarter ton pickup and trailer were, along with all of the weight of the supplies on-board, it’s amazing to think of how bad it could have been.
The airbag deployed in my SUV, but the only contact I had with it was on the inside of my forearms from where I was holding the steering wheel at the 3:00/9:00 position.  I could tell this by the small grid-like woven red marks on my forearms.
The hand of a Mighty God and my seat belt kept me firmly in my seat.  Thus, I am here to share this story with you today.  And, I suggest you never go anywhere without your seat belt on either.

Howard Reece is a Highway Maintenance Superintendent at the Salina KDOT office.