Thursday, October 29, 2015

8 Midwest states receive federal grant to develop system to track truck parking

A $25 million federal grant to address critical truck parking issues in the Midwest has been awarded to a consortium of Kansas and seven other states.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant was awarded to the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO) to develop the multi-state Truck Parking Information and Management System (TPIMS). Other MAASTO states that will receive funding include Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. 

The grant was announced today in Wichita by Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. Kansas was the lead applicant among the states.

Safety issues arise when trucks parked along key freight corridors overflow onto the shoulders of rest area ramps, freeway ramps and adjacent roads. Often there may be adequate parking elsewhere along the route, but no real-time information is available to let truckers know where that might  be. 

“I’m excited and grateful to accept this grant on behalf of Kansas and the other seven states whose goals are to improve the efficiency, economic competitiveness and safety of the national freight network,” said Kansas Transportation Secretary and former MAASTO president Mike King. “By working together, we can provide our freight customers the reliability of a seamless, regional system." 

The TPIMS will disseminate parking information on electronic message signs, traveler information websites and smart phone applications. In Kansas, the system will include information about parking along I-70 and I-135.

            The Kansas Department of Transportation expects to receive about $3.3 million in federal funds and will contribute approximately$486,000 in state funds for the work in Kansas.

Nation's Top Federal Highway Official in Wichita to Make Major Funding Announcement

Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau will be in Wichita to make a federal funding announcement at 3 p.m. today.  Administrator Nadeau will be joined by KDOT Secretary Mike King at Groendyke Transport Inc, 3350 N. Ohio in Wichita for the announcement.  Stay tuned for more details later today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wednesday's Words

Standard and Poor’s, the bond-rating agency last week stated: “Millennials” — people born between 1982 and 2000 — “are driving less than older motorists did” at the same age — “and when they do get behind the wheel, they are . . . in smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.” 

This is consistent with a growing number of studies that show Millennials, more than previous generations, prefer having more transportation alternatives to driving such as walking, biking or using public transit.   While previous generations saw car ownership as a source of freedom, many Millennials believe it's a burden.

Transportation leaders will need to be mindful of this information both in terms of how mobility is provided and how it is funded in the future. 

Does thing ring true with the Millennials you know?  Sound off in the comment box below.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Secrets of Southeast Kansas: Mined Land Wildlife Area

Those old strip mines carved through the landscape are no longer scenes of utter desolation. They’ve become lakes brimming with fish and rich in waterfowl. Adjoining wetlands, native grasslands, oak and hickory forests are now home to deer, wild turkey, quail, cottontail rabbit, fox and mink. This is the Mined Land Wildlife Area, a devastation-to-restoration story that plays out over 14,500 acres in Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties.

The Mined Land Wildlife Area includes 46 tracts of land. The land was reclaimed following the departure of the coal companies, which had surface mined in the region from the late 1800’s through the early 1970’s. The 200-plus strip mine lakes vary in size and depth and are filled with different kinds of sportfish. In addition to fishing and hunting, camping and canoeing are permitted on many of the tracts.

So grab your fishing pole or hunter’s gear, binoculars and hiking boots, load up the boat or canoe – and prepare to enjoy some quality time on beautifully restored wildlife habitat in the southeastern corner of the state. For additional information go to

Monday, October 26, 2015

ICYMI: U.S. Bicycle Route 76 designated in Kansas

KDOT announces the addition of 487 miles to the U.S. Bicycle Route 76 (USBR 76), which follows the existing Trans-America Trail as it crosses Kansas. 

Kansas is the fifth state to designate USBR 76 and there are now 2,013 miles of the route completed between Virginia and Kansas. The entire proposed route crosses the United States from Virginia to Oregon. KDOT worked with the many local jurisdictions through which the route passes, as well as members of Adventure Cycling Association, on the designation.  

It connects with Missouri’s recently designated portion entering Kansas near Girard. The newly designated route travels west via K-146, U.S. 54, K-19 and K-96 before leaving the state near Tribune. 

“Bringing in bicyclists from across the U.S. as well as encouraging Kansas bicyclists to travel on the route will significantly increase tourism throughout the state,” Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King said. “We have so many wonderful places to experience and are pleased to be a part of this national effort.” 

The route passes along many scenic and educational locations such as the Flint Hills, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Bicyclists interested in riding throughout the state can find a variety of maps and other helpful information on the KDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian website at

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Throwback Thursday

Today, we're going back to a construction project near Strong City in 1953.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Back to the Future Day

In the movie, Back to the Future II, Marty McFly time travels from 1985 to see his future self on Oct. 21, 2015.  While we don't all have flying cars or hoverboards, there are many ways that technology has impacted transportation a great deal since 1985.  Computers have made the biggest difference in both improving automobile safety and in the overall design and construction of infrastructure.

While driverless cars and connected vehicles are the headliners, there's a number of smaller innovations that are impacting transportation today, which are lesser known.

Electronic deliverable plans to contractors:  Traditionally, engineers develop plans digitally for transportation projects.  These digital plans are then printed on paper for contractors to take to the construction site.  The transfer from digital to paper often lack some of the necessary detail leaving the contractors with many questions about what the designer had in mind.  Now files can be transferred electronically and viewed in its original form on the construction site eliminating a lot of confusion. The Oregon Department of Transportation estimates that it saves an average of six percent in construction cost and 40 percent in time on each project by utilizing this new technology.

Crowd-sourced traffic data:  Whether it's checking Yelp for restaurant reviews or Trip Advisor to see how others rated a hotel, most people have made a decision about where to eat or sleep based on advice from strangers.  But you may not be aware that you can use crowd-sourced data to avoid a traffic jam or to find a quiet spot in your city.  Apps like Waze, Stereopublic, BlaBlaCar to name a few rely on user reports to improve the navigation or carpooling opportunities for other users.

Drones monitor progress on construction sites: Some construction companies are utilizing drones to fly over construction projects to gather video footage. That footage is then converted into a three-dimensional picture of the site, which is fed into software that compares it to computerized architectural plans as well as a the construction work plan showing when each element should be finished. The software can show managers how the project is progressing, and can automatically highlight parts that may be falling behind schedule.  This increases productivity and efficiency of projects.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Trivia

Deer-vehicle crashes increase in the fall when mating season and the quest for a more secure habitat have deer on the move.  For more tips about how to avoid deer collisions, please click here.  And test your knowledge on how prevalent these crashes are below. 

1. Which Kansas county had the most deer-vehicle crashes in 2014?
A. Sedgwick County
B. Barton County
C. Riley County
D. Johnson County

The correct answer is Sedgwick County, which had 422.

2. About how many deer-vehicle crashes occur in Kansas each year?
A. 5,000 or less
B. 10,000
C. 20,000
D. 50,000

The correct answer is around 10,000.  Over the last five years, Kansas has averaged about 9,700 deer-vehicle crashes per year.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Motorists should be alert for harvest traffic

Fall harvest season is in full swing, which means it’s time to share the road with equipment and trucks from Kansas’ more than 61,000 farms.

KDOT and the Kansas Highway Patrol offer the following harvest travel safety tips:

  • Slow down! Farm equipment moves slower than you. Use the orange triangle on the back of farm machinery as a cue to reduce your speed.

  • Share the road: Tractors, trucks and combines take up more lane space than a normal vehicle. Allow plenty of room when following and be extra cautious when passing farm equipment.
  •  Stay alert: Expect heavy truck traffic near grain elevators and co-ops. Grain trucks may be stopped on the road while waiting to unload grain. Consider using an alternate route away from elevators.
  • Watch for turns: Be aware of trucks and equipment pulling on to roads from fields. Also be prepared for farm equipment to suddenly turn off of the road into a field entrance.
  • Don’t assume: Farmers aren’t always able to see vehicles around them. Don’t assume they know you are there.
  •  See tracks, think train: Grain goes to market by train as well as truck! Be watchful when approaching railroad crossings.

And, as always, make sure you and your passengers are buckled up every trip, every time.