Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday's Words a Haboob Haiku

"Wham, bam, dust storm jam / Can’t see? Don’t drive, pull over / Lights out ‘til all clear"

This was one of the Arizona Department of Transportation's favorite submissions to their "Haboob Haiku" challenge.   In light of recent dust storms, these words seemed appropriate for today's blog.

There has already been one reported death in Kansas due to driving in a dust storm.  Please be careful.  The following driving tips are recommended when encountering a low-visibility dust storm or smoky conditions with the understanding that driver judgment is the most important factor when driving in adverse conditions: 

• Avoid driving into or through a dust storm if possible.

• While driving through dust and smoke make sure to have your headlights on.  

• Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway -- do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can. 

• Do not stop in a travel lane; look for a safe place to pull completely off the paved portion of the roadway. 

• Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from other vehicles. 

•Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers, while parked. You need to turn off your lights to prevent other vehicles from following you and causing a collision.

• Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake pedal.

• Stay in the vehicle with your seatbelt buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
• Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.

• A driver's alertness and safe driving ability is still the number one factor to prevent

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Public transportation is getting greener

Over 40 percent of U.S. public transit buses are using alternatives-- more than double the amount a decade ago.

In honor of Earth Day, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) sent out a news release detailing all of the industries efforts to become more environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient.  According to APTA, each year 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions and 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline are saved due to the use of public transportation in the United States. 

“Whether it be environmentally efficient transit buses or solar powered buildings and bus shelters, public transportation is a leader in sustainability,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “Many public transportation agencies and businesses know that sustainability not only helps the air quality of a community, but also pays off in cost savings.  It’s a good business practice."

In 2004, less than 20 percent of transit buses were using alternative fuels-- today it's 40 percent.

Kansas is not immune to this trend. Lawrence Transit System currently has three electric hybrids in its fleet.  And the entire fleet uses biodiesel according to Robert Nugent, public transit administrator.

And in November, the Kansas City Area Transit Authority (KCATA) board of commissioners approved a 10-year operation and maintenance agreement with Clean Energy to fuel its transitioning fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and paratransit vehicles. 

KCATA will begin replenishing its fleet with 25 CNG buses and an estimated acquisition of 15 additional CNG buses each year thereafter until 256 CNG buses have been deployed.

According to KCATA officials, CNG can be purchased for roughly half the price of what diesel costs. A drawback to CNG vehicles is that there are a limited number of refueling stations throughout the U.S. However, as the number of those stations increases, the transit industry expects more agencies to convert their fleets to save money and to reduce their carbon footprints.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Glow in the dark roads

The first “Glowing Lines” section of road was unveiled on a 500-meter stretch of highway near Oss, in the Netherlands earlier this month. 

The paint contains a "photo-luminising" powder that charges up in the daytime and slowly releases a green glow at night, eliminating the need for streetlights. Once the paint has absorbed daylight it can glow for up to eight hours in the dark.  

The creator of the idea, Daan Roosegaarde said, “one day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave. I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the strewn and becomes part of us.”  

Check out the video below to learn more and tell us what you think about these glow in the dark roads in the comment section.

Friday, April 25, 2014

On my way

As we near the end of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we want to leave you with one more thought.  Click on the 57-second video to find out what it is.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday

"So, how did your car end up in the creek?" 

That's the question we want answered from today's Throwback Thursday photo we found in our archives.  All we know is that it is from March 26, 1919 in Morris County.  If you know anything about it, please tell us in the comment box below. 

With today's much needed spring showers, it seems like an appropriate time to remind everyone that if you encounter a flooded roadway, turnaround and find a new route.  Don't drive through it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday's Words regarding the Safety Conference & Johnson County Gateway Project

For this week's Wednesday's Words, we're sharing some of our favorite tweets regarding a couple big events that were held yesterday.  During the Kansas Transportation Safety Conference, KDOT Secretary Mike King gave out Itunes gift cards for the first three people to follow the agency on Twitter and the first three people who liked KDOT's Facebook page.  Here are few tweets from that conference.

The Johnson County Gateway project also broke ground yesterday.  Here are a few tweets from that event.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

First design-build project breaks ground today

KDOT will host a groundbreaking event for Kansas' first design-build project, the Johnson County Gateway Phase 2 Project at 2 p.m. today in Lenexa. 

The $288 million project will improve the interchange at I-435/I-35/K-10.  More than 230,000 vehicles travel through this interchange daily making it one of the most congested areas in the state.

Traditionally separate contracts are issued for the design and for the construction of a project. With a design-build project, a single contract is issued for both design and construction of the project. The Kansas Legislature authorized KDOT to do one design-build project as part of the transportation program, T-WORKS, and the Gateway Project was selected for this delivery method.

Governor Sam Brownback and KDOT Secretary Mike King will be speaking at today's event.   Please join us for the event if you can. 

Date:  Tuesday, April 22, 2014 

Time:  2:00 p.m.    

Location:  Quest Diagnostics, 10101 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, KS - South Parking Lot Facing K-10. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held onsite inside the Quest Diagnostics Building.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lighting the way for other states

Kansas is the first state to use self-sufficient solar powered LED pavement lights to illuminate rural interchanges and intersections.

These solar lights are part of pilot project being completed by KDOT and Pittsburg State University.  The lights were installed in October at the U.S. 169/Plummer Road and U.S.169/Chanute-Humboldt Road interchanges.  While the feasibility study won't be complete until later this year, the preliminary results are very promising.

According to project manager Chris Pross, the project team has been very pleased with how well the lights have worked and have received positive feedback from travelers along the interchanges. The solar lights proved to be very helpful during a night with heavy fog-- even more so, than a tower light that was ineffective due to the fog's density. Pross noted that of the 600 lights installed only two have failed to work. He said that other state DOTs have expressed interest in the lights and have reached out to KDOT to learn more about them.

KDOT provides tower lighting on interchanges and intersections in high traffic areas.  These solar lights are a cost-efficient way to increase visibility on interchanges and intersections that may not warrant tower lighting but still have considerable traffic volumes.

Check out the video below to learn more about these lights.

Friday, April 18, 2014

K-State student helping with distracted driving campaign

Check out this powerful poster designed by Cheyanna Colborn, a junior in public relations at Kansas State University.  Colborn created this to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
KDOT and the Kansas Highway Patrol will host a news conference today with an expert on dual-tasking; a young man incapacitated in a texting crash; his mother, who will speak for him; and the young man’s companion dog.  Below are the event details.  Please come join us.

WHO:            Paul Atchley, psychology professor at the University of Kansas; Austin Breitenstein, and his mother, Julie Breitenstein.

WHAT:         Kansas distracted driving awareness and prevention campaign.

WHEN:        1:30 p.m., Friday, April 18, 2014

WHERE:      Kansas State Capitol, 300 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, south steps. In case of inclement weather, the event will be held in the Capitol Rotunda.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Here's a throwback to April 7, 2008 at a National Work Zone Awareness Week event at the State Capitol.  Former Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Terry Maple spoke at the event as did former KDOT Secretary Deb Miller and Shirley McDonald, whose son was killed in a 2005 work zone crash. There were 279 work zone cones lining the south steps of the Capitol, which represented people killed in work zone crashes since 1990 and all KDOT workers killed since 1950.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday's Words with Google

On Monday, Google purchased Titan Aerospace, a start-up founded in 2012 that makes high-altitude, solar-powered drones. Facebook was also considering acquiring the company to help bring internet access to parts of the world that don't have it.

"Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world," Google said. "It's still early days, but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation." 

Here's a look at how the solar-powered drones work.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This winter is the most expensive since 2008

Which of these costs $22 million?
A.    The combined 2014 salaries of Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields and designated hitter Billy Butler.
B.     The cost of Google billionaire Eric Schmidt's new Los Angeles home.
C.     The budget for the Oscar winning film “12 Years a Slave”.
D.    The amount KDOT spent on snow and ice removal in 2014.

The correct answer is all of the above.

KDOT spent an estimated $22 million on materials, labor and equipment usage to keep state highways clear and open for travel-- the most expensive winter since 2008. This season KDOT crews worked 550,000 hours, used 591 dump trucks and treated/plowed some 2.7 million lane miles.

 “I want to thank our crews for their dedication and hard work to keep Kansas roads open in some very difficult conditions. Winter maintenance takes a substantial amount of effort and money, but the cost to the state would be much greater if the crews didn’t maintain the system as well as they did,” said Transportation Secretary Mike King.

KDOT maintenance experts said the broad scope of this year’s storms, along with frigid temperatures, combined to make this an expensive winter season.

Monday, April 14, 2014

U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

Distracted driving killed 3,328 people and injured more than 421,000 on American roadways in 2012 alone.  To put that in perspective, that's about the same amount of people that live in the Kansas towns of Hugoton or Lindsborg.  It's a growing epidemic. 

 In response to this issue, the U.S. DOT has launched its first-ever national advertising campaign.  The chilling ads, which uses the phrase, "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." have already generated media interest.  These ads combined with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in states with distracted driving bans are part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  Check out the 30-second-ad below.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Go Orange Week Wraps Up

ATSSA Foundation Board President Sue Ross wraps up our safety blogs this week.  You can read her blog here.

And if you missed anything this week, all of the Go Orange pictures, videos and stats can be found here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Go Orange Day

Today is Go Orange Day so we hope you're wearing orange to show your support for work zone safety.  And today's safety blogger is Jake Jackson a Kansas Turnpike Authority Equipment Foreman.  Check out his blog here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A costly mistake

Carman Ange lost her son in a Kansas work zone.  Click here to read her story.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

KDOT Highway Supervisory has 3 close calls

KDOT Highway Supervisor in Bonner Springs Peter Wiehe – he’s been with the agency for 29 years and shares three close calls he’s experienced.  Click here to read about them.