Thursday, April 30, 2015

Escape from Vietnam

The Hoang family today. Carolyn is the second woman from the right.
Photo credit: Pilot Tribune.

Today, we have a very special edition of the blog.  Carolyn Hoang, the wife of  KDOT employee Abe Rezayazdi, shares her family's story of escaping Saigon in 1975 and eventually moving to Storm Lake, Iowa. 

Abe was studying electrical engineering at Iowa State University during the summer of 1977 when he met Carolyn.  They married three years later.  Abe currently serves as KDOT's Construction Letting Engineer and has been with the agency for nearly 30 years. 

Below is an excerpt of Carolyn's story and the link to complete column.

"This April 30 will mark the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the migration of the Vietnamese to this great country. I felt compelled to write my story of how we left our home country and the ordeals that my family endured along the way. We were the first foreign family to reside in Storm Lake."  Click here to read more.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kansas sets new record for seat-belt usage

Check out the video below to learn more about what this record-setting year means for Kansans.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Don't miss out on this safety event

KDOT  will announce the state’s most recent observed seat belt usage rate today.
Who: Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King, Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Mark Bruce and Norraine Wingfield of the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office.
What: Announcement of the observed seatbelt usage rate in Kansas.
When: 2 p.m., Monday, April 27.
Where: Kansas Highway Patrol Troop B, 3501 N.W. U.S. Highway 24, Topeka, KS 66618.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Today, we're going back to 1970.  Can you guess which Kansas town this is?  Post your guess in the comment box below.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day put together 10 easy things people can do which are good for the Earth.  One of the things the article recommends is biking or walking because neither mode requires fossil fuels or electricity.  And they can save you some money.  If you want to take advantage of this, please click here to get a map of Kansas bike routes and other helpful information for walking or biking in our state.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gov. Brownback vetos Uber bill

 Gov. Sam Brownback has vetoed a bill that may have driven Uber Technologies Inc. out of the state.  Uber allows users to request a car service via mobile app.  It has drawn criticism from cab companies because Uber drivers are not licensed. Advocates argue it offers a cheaper alternative to cab service, which benefits consumers.

In his veto message to the Kansas legislature, the Governor said:

“While I appreciate the legislature’s hard work on this legislation, I believe this bill is premature. To overregulate or improperly regulate an emerging industry before the marketplace actors make proper arrangements is to invite more, problems, not less.

“Kansas should be known as a state that embraces economic growth and innovation. The jobs created by this new industry can bring opportunity to many Kansas families.  An open and free marketplace often results in higher quality products at a more affordable price.

“This will allow companies like Uber to continue and expand operations in Kansas, where they otherwise would not be able to do so.

“I applaud the discussions that have taken place nationally between the emerging ride-sharing industry and insurance companies.  Similar discussions now need to take place with the banking community, which understandably wants to ensure its financial interests are also protected.

“I also applaud the legislature’s interest in protecting the safety of our citizens.  I strongly support background checks for ride-sharing drivers.  However, the ride-sharing industry believes the background requirement as currently written, weakens rather than strengthens, the level of scrutiny placed on its potential drivers.

“Therefore, I believe more time, more collaboration, and more discussion will ultimately result in a better public policy product for Kansas.  In the meantime, local municipalities will regulate the ride-sharing industry just as they have always done with traditional passenger transportation companies.  At this moment in time, they are better equipped to understand the unique and emerging challenges and opportunities the ride-sharing industry brings to their communities.

“Though I am vetoing this bill, I am also calling upon ride-sharing companies, insurers, banks and credit unions, to work with our legislature to resolve their differences. These discussions have already begun among Uber and many major insurances companies. The same should begin with banks and credit unions. I look forward to reviewing a new bill that results from these conversations.

"Pursuant to Article 2, Section 14(a) of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, I hereby veto House Substitute for Senate Bill 117."

Monday, April 20, 2015

How expensive was this winter?

Not to jinx the arrival of spring, but it appears that winter weather (at least large-scale winter weather) is over and the cost of the winter of 2014-15 is about $8 million less than last year.
This winter’s cost of materials, manpower and equipment is $14.6 million.  That compares to about $22 million spent last year, the most expensive year since 2008.  Here are some of the other numbers for this year:

Winter 2014-15 by the numbers*
591                 Dump trucks
1.4 million       Miles treated/plowed
281,000          Labor hours
78,500            Tons of salt
49,000            Tons of sand
4 million          Gallons of brine

Annual winter expenses
2008   $23.7 million                        $9.10 per registered vehicle
2009   $11.3 million                         $4.30
2010   $20 million                            $7.70
2011   $17.9 million                         $6.90
2012   $6.9 million                           $2.70
2013   $18.6 million                         $7.20
2014   $22.6  million                        $8.50
2015   $16 million*                          $5.71*

*Estimated costs

Friday, April 17, 2015

Morning Buzz

A semitruck carrying honeybees scattered hundreds of hives when it overturned on a highway north of Seattle this morning.  The accident happened after the driver, who was not injured in the incident, reportedly lost control of the vehicle.  Beekeepers are at the crash site to help recover as many bees as possible.  Clean up is expected to be lengthy.  To learn more, click here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Throwback Thursday

The photo above shows the construction of the Kansas Turnpike between Emporia and El Dorado.  Can you guess what year it was?  Let us know your guess in the comment box below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Guess how many football fields equal the amount KDOT mows each year

KDOT field crews will soon be back on mowers maintaining more than 150,000 acres of highway right-of-way. By the end of the growing season, they will have mowed the equivalent of 250,000 football fields.

Like any work done along high-speed highways, mowing is hazardous. KDOT reminds drivers to slow down when approaching a mower, give them as much space as is safe, eliminate distractions and be respectful of the men and women who operate the mowers.
In recent years, the agency has adopted policies that reduce mowing frequency to save money, reduce crashes, enhance roadside aesthetics and provide cover for small wildlife.

KDOT plants native grasses and wildflowers – which are easier to maintain – on new construction projects, only mows the full right-of-way (the area beyond 15 feet of the road) every four years, and works with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Natural Resource Conservation Services and others to develop a responsive roadside management program.

To learn more about how KDOT manages Kansas’ roadsides, click here.  

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring construction ramping up

Six projects to add passing lanes to U.S. 50 in Lyon, Chase, Harvey, and Reno counties totaling $20.6 million were recently approved as part of the March 25, 2015, KDOT construction letting. The $67.6 million March letting included a total of 28 projects that were approved across the state.

To see a list of all the March approved projects, go to

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kansas Aviation Portal unveiled at K-State-Salina

KDOT's Aviation Division unveiled the Kansas Aviation Portal on the campus of Kansas State University-Salina today. 

In 2011, KDOT’s Aviation Division released the nation’s first Airspace Awareness Tool, which was designed to increase the awareness of potential obstacles around Kansas airports. The aviation portal builds upon the original airspace tool with expanded capabilities and data layers that show economic impacts, system plans, pavement conditions at airports and 3-D animation.  

“I’m proud of the Aviation Division for its continued innovation with Kansas Aviation Portal,” said Transportation Secretary Mike King. “We all use aviation to benefit the Kansas economy more than we know. This portal gives users the chance to increase their knowledge of airspace safety as well as learning about the benefits of Kansas airports.” 

Director of Aviation Jesse Romo said the reason for the update was simply to take advantage of improved technology.  

“Anything technology based moves so quickly, this gave us a chance to upgrade the Airspace Awareness Tool and make it more spectacular,” Romo said. “Anyone can now learn more about our airports, the role they play in our system and the economic benefits they provide to the community.” 

The upgrade to the airspace awareness function includes the ability to test new or proposed structures against the FAA’s notice criteria tool. The tool will color code the proposed obstructions if they require an FAA airspace study. 

“It’s the first tool of its kind to put this much aviation data on a single public site while using Google Earth and 3-D animated imagery,” Romo said. 

The portal which has been developed over the past year by KDOT and Burns and McDonnell can be found at Access to the portal may require a browser update.