Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kansas joins the Monarch Highway

A monarch in Topeka. 
           Last week, KDOT along with five other state departments of transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, signed an agreement today that will improve pollinator habitat along Interstate 35, a key migratory corridor for Monarch butterflies.
            In the past year, I-35, which passes through Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, was identified as a corridor that could be enhanced as butterfly habitat through the increased planting of vegetation that provides refuge and a food source.
Kansas roadside on I-35. 

 “Kansas roadsides have been a haven for Monarchs since 2008 when KDOT started planting butterfly milkweed and other native wildflowers on the roadsides,” Scott Shields, KDOT Environmental Scientist, said. “We are excited to partner with other states on I-35 to provide education and habitat for these important pollinator insects.” 
            This agreement establishes a cooperative and coordinated effort to establish best practices and promote public awareness of the Monarch butterfly and other pollinating insects.
Wildflowers growing on I-35 in Kansas. 
            Monarch butterflies hatch in late summer or early fall, wintering in Mexico. In the spring, butterflies begin their 2,000-mile trek north. Along the way, they lay eggs that develop into butterflies that finish the trip and begin the cycle again.

            “We are trying to build awareness about the best practices for pollinators,” Shields said. “We are hoping that we can create a habitat that benefits the Monarch butterflies and other critically important pollinating insects so that they can thrive. This benefits everyone in the long run.”

Monday, May 30, 2016

Motoring Monday: Memorial Day reminder

Today is Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States. In last Monday’s transportation blog, activities taking place at the three national cemeteries in Kansas were featured. As a reminder, today’s ceremonies at those three cemeteries are at:
Leavenworth - The Leavenworth National Cemetery ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. followed by the ceremony at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery at 11:40 a.m.
Fort Scott –The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the cemetery.

National Moment of Remembrance
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed in 2000, which asks that at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day all Americans observe a moment of silence or listen to ‘Taps.’

Thursday, May 26, 2016

#TBT How to move a bridge girder

This past weekend all lanes of I-435 at I-35 were closed as part of bridge removal. By closing the lanes to traffic it gave crews time to work on the bridges as part of the Johnson County Gateway.

During that time several videos were made to show magnitude of the work being done in such a short amount of time. Work is still being done on the project, and it includes lane closures and full interchange closures, that information is updated daily on our website which can be found here. 

We know waiting for projects to be complete is not easy, but we hope that you can look at these videos and see the work being done.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Zipper Merge comes to Kansas

We are starting a new feature called Work Zone Wednesday that will highlight projects around the state. Today's feature is about the zipper merge. The zipper merge is popular in Minnesota and has been used in Washington state as well. It's a common question that KDOT gets on social media, when will Kansas use the zipper merge instead of backing up traffic for miles, use the zipper merge?

But what's the zipper merge?

The zipper merge asks traffic to stay in both lanes until they are told to merge, then take turns of every other car going until you are in one lane, flowing together like the teeth of zipper.

KDOT will be using the zipper merge, or late merge, on a bridge repair project in the Kansas City area, northbound U.S. 69 over 119th Street in Overland Park. It is important that drivers follow the signs instead of using the traditional early merge that has been used in Kansas for years. Don't lane block your fellow drivers, the two lanes are both to be used while traveling.

We've created this video to explain how the zipper merge will work in Kansas. For more information about the zipper merge and the project that it will be used on, please look here. And please zip the urge to merge!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bicycle refresher 101

Photo courtesy of the Lawrence Unchained Bike Coop. 
Our friends at the Topeka Community Cycle Project have passed along some great tips for cyclists. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a long time cyclist there are good facts to know. 

A basic bike check when leaving every time:
A is for Air
B is for Brakes
C is for cranks and chain
Quick is for quick releases
Check is for check it over
Photo courtesy of Bike Walk Wichita
Helmet fitting:

To find the right size helmet, put one on your head without fastening the straps.
The front of the helmet should be level and two-fingers width above your eyebrows.
Shake your head from side to side: There should only be a little movement.

Share the road
Bikes are vehicles and should act and be treated as such
Laws that apply to motorists also apply to people on bikes

In choosing a route to ride an errand or go on a ride with the family, choose roads that parallel main streets, slower neighborhood roads that will be just as efficient, but without the amount of traffic main streets have. It may be a slightly farther distance, but it will be a higher quality, less stressful riding experience!

When first riding to work, or trying a route you plan to use frequently, give it a try on a weekend afternoon or a time of less traffic. This way you can get a feel for the distance and other factors. Plus you won't be feeling stressed in case something comes up and you can't make it to your destination by a certain time.
Bike to School 2016. Photo courtesy of Bike Walk Wichita. 
Don't forget to bring a lock if you intend to place your bike outside at your destination. Try and bring the bicycle inside if you plan to be there overnight.

If you are commuting by bike to work, try bringing an extra set of clothes the first couple times you try it. If you find you don't sweat to a point where you're uncomfortable wearing those clothes, just ride in your work clothes and take a more leisurely pace. 

A front or rear rack you can get at a local bike shop can make any short trip more enjoyable depending on your preference for riding with items or bags on your back.

A front and rear reflector are required in Kansas. A front headlight is required at dusk, but a taillight is great idea for your own visibility as well!

To try and avoid flats while out riding, check the appropriate air pressure on the side of your tires and refill every few weeks!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Motoring Monday: Memorial Day

2015 ceremony at Leavenworth National Cemetery
Numerous Memorial Day remembrance ceremonies, services and activities will take place across the state this weekend to remember the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The post highlights activities scheduled at Kansas’ three national cemeteries – two are in Leavenworth and one is in Fort Scott.
Leavenworth - On Friday, May 27, the Airlifter Brass from the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America will perform a free concert at 7 p.m. at Leavenworth High School.
Saturday morning, about 1,500 local scouts and volunteers from around the area will decorate the graves at both the Leavenworth National Cemetery and the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.
On Monday, the Leavenworth National Cemetery ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. followed by the ceremony at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery at 11:40 a.m.
Fort Scott – On Friday, May 27, local scouts, volunteers and member of the National Honor Society from Fort Scott High School will decorate the graves at Fort Scott National Cemetery. On Monday, the ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. at the cemetery.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

#TBT Motorcycle Safety

This photo was taken in 1910 in Clay Center. From Kansas Memory.
As the temperatures rise, so do the number of motorcycles on the roads. May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and we’re encouraging all drivers and riders to “Share the Road.”

In 2014, 4,586 motorcyclists were killed in crashes, a decrease of 2.3 percent from 2013. Those deaths accounted for 14 percent of the total highway fatalities that year, despite motorcycle registrations representing only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.

The NHTSA offers the following safety tips for sharing the road with motorcycles:
  • Allow motorcycles a full lane at all times. Even though they are small vehicles, they have all of the rights of the road as any other motorist. 
  • Always signal when changing lanes or merging with traffic. 
  • Watch for their turn signals. Just because a turn signal is on doesn't mean the ride is turning. Some signals are not self-canceling and riders may forget to turn them off. Ensure the rider is turning before proceeding. 
  • Check all mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes or merging with traffic. Motorcycles can be easily hidden in a vehicle's blind spot. 
  • Increase your following distance to three to four seconds when following a motorcycle. This gives riders more time to maneuver or stop in an emergency. 

Motorcyclists have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as any other motorist on the roadway. Safe riding practices and cooperation from other road users will help reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads. Be safe and “Share the Road!”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bike to Work Day

Bicycle Awareness Month is May, and Bike to Work Day is on Friday, May 20. There are events that highlight bicycle awareness all over the state, here are a few that were sent to us.

In Lawrence- Homeless Shelter Event. May 21, members of the Bike Coop along with League of American Cyclist Certified Instructors, will be teaching a commuter and safety class to guests at the Lawrence Community Shelter (homeless shelter). The people who take this three-hour course will earn locks, lights, bicycle repair tools and helmets and those who don't have bikes, will earn them and those, also.

They have the bicycles, but need monetary or supply donations to help provide locks, lights, helmets and bicycle repair tools for those completing the course. Here is the sign up for donations.

Earn a bike in May. Volunteers help us work on bikes, organize at our shop in Lawrence on Mondays, 6-8 p.m. After 10 hours of volunteering, they earn a bike from our collection. Here is the volunteer sign up. http://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0d4da8a72ca6f85-april

May bicycle, tool and donation drive. We are only able to do what we do because of the generosity of those who donate their time, resources and talents. In May, we are collecting bicycles, bicycle tools, parts and monetary donations. For more information on how to donate parts, bikes and tools, email lawrenceunchained@gmail.com. Monetary donations may be made online at http://www.lawrenceunchained.com/donate/

Wichita-  Bike Walk Wichita has a website that explains the happenings in the month of May as well as their tips for safe riding. 

Manhattan- On the city's website there are links to safe riding tips as well has having a list of bicycle related events in the Little Apple this month. 

Topeka- The Topeka Cycle Project  has the Topeka Ride of Silence on Wednesday, May 18, and the Glenda Taylor Ride on Sunday, May 22, for more details their calendar is linked here. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

#TBT getting around with a bicycle

Topeka Daily Capital delivery boys in front of the office in 1900. 

This month is bicycle awareness month, and we found a few photos that show bicycles being used as transportation not just for recreation. The photos were found at the Kansas Memory section of the Kansas Historical Society.

A boy in Logan County taken between 1940 and 1949 with two dead skunks.  
Wichita Beacon newspaper carrier wearing a dust mask in Ness City in 1935.
A photograph of hunters and their ducks taken between 1910 and 1930. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

'Click it. Or ticket.' campaign seeks to reduce traffic injuries, deaths

Topeka doctor Bill Sachs doesn’t treat every car crash victim that comes to Stormont Vail Health. But as the trauma program director for the hospital, he and his staff see the worst.
“We just see the serious ones,” Sachs said. “The ones we see aren’t wearing their seat belts.”
Sachs knows what the studies back; wearing a seat belt reduces the number of significant injuries from deaths from motor vehicles by more than 50 percent. As a part of those studies, the Kansas Department of Transportation announced Wednesday at Stormont Vail that there will be added law enforcement looking out for those not buckling up. Kansas’ annual “Click it. Or ticket.” campaign will be Monday, May 16 through Sunday, June 5.
Lauren Newell, a sophomore at Wabaunsee High School who spoke at today’s event, was wearing her seat belt last year when she was involved in a crash and walked away from the event. Her boyfriend, who was not wearing his was ejected from the car and now suffers from a traumatic brain injury.
“Because he didn’t wear his seat belt, his life will never be the same,” Newell said. “It doesn’t matter how far you’re driving or how fast you are going. You need to buckle up.”
Transportation Secretary Mike King echoed Newell’s message.
“We know when seat belt use goes up, fatalities and serious injuries go down,” King said. “‘Click it. Or ticket.’ campaign focuses on our goal of ‘Drive to Zero,’ which means just one preventable death on our roadways is one too many.”
“On the ‘Drive to Zero,’ you are in the driver’s seat,” King said. “It’s up to you to make sure everyone in your car is buckled up.”
For the next few weeks law enforcement will be working overtime to enforce Kansas’ seat belt laws because it saves lives.
Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. Adam Winters has worked countless crashes in his career as a Trooper.
“Every time we are dispatched to a crash, I just hope that the victims are wearing their seat belts,” Winters said. “Memorial Day is the official kick off to summer, and we know the roads are going to be busy. Please take the time to buckle up. Every trip. Every time.” 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Johnson County Gateway project celebrates dual milestones

A bird's eye view of the two new-lane flyover ramps serving eastbound I-435 to northbound I-35 and westbound I-435 to southbound I-35.

Kansas Department of Transportation Secretary Mike King, along with local city, county and state officials, celebrated the completion of two key milestones today in the mega Johnson County Gateway project.
With two new two-lane flyover ramps serving eastbound I-435 to northbound I-35 and westbound I-435 to southbound I-35 traffic in Lenexa serving as the backdrop, Secretary King, Gateway Interchange Constructors’ Bill Clarkson, KDOT Project Director Paul Gripka, along with local city, county and state officials, cut the ribbon to mark the completion of these ramps.
“When we plan projects, we want to address issues of safety, congestion, preservation and expansion of the highway system. This project accomplishes all of that,” said Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King.
The westbound I-35 to southbound I-35 flyover ramp opened to one lane of traffic on Thursday, April 28, and the eastbound I-435 to northbound I-35 flyover ramp is scheduled to open to one lane of traffic on Wednesday, May 11, weather permitting. Both of these ramps will carry two lanes of traffic when all adjacent project work is completed later this year.
Transportation Secretary Mike King, left, Project Director Paul Gripka and Gateway Interchange Constructor's Bill Clarkson all spoke at Monday's event.

More than 230,000 vehicles use the I-435/I-35/K-10 interchange and that number is estimated to grow to 380,000 by 2040. This traffic volume, along with economic development potential, declining infrastructure and roadway safety concerns, are among the key reasons for much needed improvements in the interchange area.
Gateway Interchange Constructors is the design-build team that is completing the project’s Phase 2 construction work. GIC is a joint venture led by Kansas City, Mo.-based Clarkson Construction Co., which has partnered with Kiewit Infrastructure Co. Additional key members of the team include local design firms HDR Engineering, Inc. and George Butler Associates, Inc.
The $288 million, three-year Gateway project is the state’s first major design-build project. Construction on Phase 2 is scheduled to be substantially complete by December 31, 2016.
For more information, visit the project website: www.jocogateway.com
KDOT and Jo Co Gateway staff along with city, county and state dignitaries officially cut the ribbon opening for the two new flyover ramps.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The world isn't flat

You may have missed this story from Wired Magazine on Dutch artist Gerco de Reijuter and the work he recently did of Kansas. The photographer created works of art that feature Kansas roads and landscape in his series, "Grid Corrections." 
Grid Corrections, Harper, Kansas. Gerco de Ruijter 

The work, which also includes photographs from Minnesota and Canada, has also been featured in Travel and Leisure story in the past year. De Ruijter set out to find why Kansas' road grid system isn't exactly the grid that it appears to be from the ground, and can only usually be viewed from the air.

One minute video of Grid Corrections. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Kansas Short Grass Motorcycle Club

The Kansas Short Grass Motorcycle Club tour gets ready to leave Larned on July 15, 1913.
In honor of Motorcycle Awareness Month we found a few photos from the Kansas Memory collection from the Kansas Historical Society.
Around 100 motorcyclists from 11 states toured in 1913 stopped  in Dodge City on their way to Denver.
These photos highlight the Kansas Short Grass Motorcycle Club's annual tour from Hutchinson to Denver, which was the host city for that year's national convention of Federation of American Motorcyclists. According to the Kansas Historical Society, the Short Grass Motorcycle Club was founded in Rexford in 1910, and received national attention because of their long-distance motorcycle tours and called themselves "the most famous motorcycle club in the world."

During the stop in Dodge City motorcycle races were held on a two-mile track that drew 1,000 spectators.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

8 projects approved in April letting

Two bridges on K-39 in Neosho County will be replaced as part of the projects approved in KDOT’s April construction letting. One is over Draw Creek and other Big Creek Drainage. Work will begin early this summer with traffic following a detour.

Eight projects were approved at a cost of about $3.8 million. For more information on the all approved April projects, click here.

Monday, May 2, 2016

ICYMI: Willard Bridge loan agreement officially approved 

       An agreement authorizing a state loan to Shawnee County to help pay for a new Willard Bridge was signed today by Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King.

      The agreement, signed during an event near the bridge, authorizes a loan of up to $8.5 million from the Kansas Department of Transportation to the county. The interest-free loan, which is to be repaid in annual installments of $850,000, will be combined with countywide sales tax revenues, $900,000 from Wabaunsee County and other funds to cover the costs of the $16 million replacement project.
Willard Bridge, left, and the pier construction that is underway.

       The Willard Bridge, which was built in 1955, spans the Kansas River between Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties. It is structurally deficient and has a posted weight limit that restricts school buses and other heavy vehicles from crossing over it. “KDOT recognizes this is an important connection between I-70, western Shawnee County and Wabaunsee County,” said Secretary King. “This is a great example of a partnership between KDOT and local governments to improve the public transportation system.”