Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: Rumble Strips

As a driver you might think of the rumble strips noisy feature of the highway, but to KDOT they are are an effective countermeasure for reducing roadway departure crashes. The noise and vibration produced by rumble strips alert drivers when they leave the highway. Rumble stripes is the term used for rumble strips painted with a retroreflective coating to increase the visibility of the pavement edge at night and during inclement weather conditions.

Research from the Federal Highway Administration shows that installing rumble strips can reduce severe crashes.

KDOT uses all types of shoulder rumble strips, depending on the need and the material. The groove pattern can be installed intermittently or continuously. The groove pattern, depth, width, shape, and spacing may also change with the road agency. Milled rumble strips are made by a machine with a rotary cutting head, which creates a smooth, uniform, and consistent groove into the pavement. 

Different dimensions of milled rumble strips provide different amounts of sound and vibration in a passenger car. The wider and deeper the rumble strip, the more sound and vibration. Cars and trucks make different sounds while driving over the strip.  It's important for KDOT to inspect the quality and construction of the rumble strips in order to create right amount of vibration and noise to do what they are intended to do, alert drivers to the fact they are no longer on the roadway. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Motoring Monday: Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site

The Pawnee Indian Museum State Historic Site is an archaeological site and museum located near the city of Republic. At the site are the remains of a village once occupied in the late 1700s and early 1800s by the Kitkehahki, or Republican, band of the Pawnee tribe.
To protect the site, the land was purchased in 1875 and then donated in 1901 to the state of Kansas for historic preservation. Research at that time showed that Zebulon Pike led an expedition to this site in 1806, seeking allies after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Pike supposedly persuaded the Indians to take down a Spanish flag and replace it with a U.S. flag.
A granite monument commemorating the flag incident was dedicated in 1901. Years later it was discovered that Pike actually visited a Kitkehahki village in south central Nebraska. The effort was a fortunate one though; this site was preserved whereas the Nebraska site was not.
The museum is located eight miles north of U.S. 36 on K-266. To learn more about the site, go to

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: Pavement fixes in northwest Kansas

Much needed repairs are underway along a 21-mile stretch of K-27 in northern Cheyenne County from the west U.S. 36/K-27 junction north to the Nebraska border.  Above average rainfall and temperatures last summer led to deteriorating pavement conditions that required action prior to this year’s construction. As a temporary fix, KDOT crews laid down approximately 300 tons of hot mix along a 12-mile stretch of the route to tide it over until 2016.

This year’s work includes a 4-inch milling of the road surface, followed by application of a 3-inch inlay and 1.5-inch overlay. Construction began in early June and is expected to be completed by mid-August. Venture Corporation is the primary contractor with a total contract cost of approximately $4.7 million.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A rest in time: Photographer preserves iconic rest areas

It never fails. You are cruising down the highway and suddenly the call of nature strikes.  You desperately search the landscape for any opportunity to stop. 

For many, travel plazas are a welcome relief. Where you can fill up your vehicle, take care of business and maybe grab a snack before you return to the highway. Modern conveniences are great, but travel back in time to the birth of highway and interstate travel and the rest stops look much different.

You may have had opportunities to spot them; these retro rest stops dot the roadsides all around the country. Each of them represents cultural and architectural influences of the times. From oil derrick replicas to teepees and even stops in the shape of a longhorn head, they all provided a great service: A place where travelers could get out of their car, eat a picnic, and take a break from the fast lane.

Time is not on their side, however, as many of these rest areas are falling into disrepair or demolished and replaced with travel plazas.

Ryann Ford, a photographer from Austin, Texas, is trying to keep these iconic images alive. In her new book, The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside, she takes readers on a fantastic trip capturing over 75 images of rest stops along America’s highways, including stops in Kansas.

“The Kansas rest stops were some of my favorite rest stops to shoot,” Ford said. “My favorite stops to shoot are the old, vintage-looking stops that haven’t yet been refurbished.  They offer some great examples of mid-century architecture.”

Between Newton and Wichita on Interstate I-135, you’ll find a rest stop that Ford documented. 

Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford
This particular rest stop’s architectural style has also been documented by the Federal Highway Administration along I70 in Geary County. This photo is from the 1960s.
Photo courtesy of the Federal Highway Administration
Two hours to north of Newton is a rest stop Ford said she thought was very interesting near Homewood.
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford
[The Homewood stop] offered more than one architectural style, which is really rare; usually each stop only has one style of picnic table.  I’d love to know the history behind the Homewood stop - the table with the pointed roof almost looks Asian-inspired.  I also love how each table has its own hand-pump water fountain and grill, all you would need for a great roadside picnic!” 

Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford

She also headed to western Kansas and captured a rest area near Rexford. 
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford

And farther south, in Wright, she found a vintage sign encouraging visitors to not litter.
Photo courtesy of Ryann Ford

All of these images and more can be found in Ford’s book , The Last Stop: Vanishing Rest Stops of the American Roadside, which was published after a successful Kickstarter campaign. It can be purchased at

Ford’s work has been published in
New York Times MagazineThe Wall Street JournalThe Atlantic and NPR. To see more of her photography check out

Do you have a favorite rest stop? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Motoring Monday: Prairie Museum of Art and History

Prairie Museum of Art and History in Colby covers 24 acres and is home to indoor and outdoor exhibits, many temporary exhibits and annual programs as well.
The world-class Kurska Collection contains more than 28,000 items featuring glass, coins, furniture, ceramics, toys, dolls, stamps, clocks, household items, tools, musical instruments, art, silver and jewelry.
Several buildings are on the site including a 1930’s farmstead, sod house, one-room school and the Lone Star Church. The Cooper Barn, the largest barn in Kansas, houses the exhibit "High and Dry: Agriculture on the High Plains" and features farm implements, vehicles and photographs illustrating the history of agriculture in the past 100 years.
Many of the exhibits have hands-on activities, and there are camps during the summer. For more information, go to

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Drinking and driving? Not a good choice

Janell Blaufuss is often reminded of other people’s choices.

It was her father’s choice to go jogging early in the morning before heading to work. It was a driver’s choice to drink and drive. The two choices came together when a drunk driver hit and killed John Blaufuss in December 2005.  

“No Christmas has ever been the same,” Blaufuss said. “We were such a big, happy family who loved to get together. No one had more fun than my father. There are so many places that he is missing.”

Blaufuss spoke at a press event today announcing, “You drink. You drive. You lose.” enforcement campaign at Exploration Place in Wichita. Beginning today, through Monday, Sept. 5, drivers can expect an increase of law enforcement efforts looking for impaired drivers.

A display car, designed to warn against driving under the influence is parked at the Exploration Place in Wichita during a press event announcing the law enforcement campaign, “You Drink. You Drive. You Lose.” 

The Wichita Police Department is one of 150 law enforcement agencies that have partnered with the Kansas Department of Transportation to crack down on impaired drivers.

“Drunk driving in Kansas is one of the deadliest and most often committed crimes,” said Deputy Chief Gavin Seiler of the Wichita Police. “Law enforcement is highly-trained to identify impaired drivers and we will be out in full force to stop them. The safety of Kansans is our primary concern.”

Last year in Kansas, there were 2,291 alcohol-related crashes, with 75 fatalities and 1,300 injuries.

“Driving under the influence is more common than we care to admit,” Kansas DUI Impact Center Executive Director Andrie Krahl said. “It affects everyone on the road. It’s important to plan ahead for a safe ride home. Our judgement is not accurate when we are impaired and negatively impacts our ability to make decisions.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Milestone Celebrated: JoCo Gateway interchange opens

Overhead shot of the new 95th Street & 1-35 diverging diamond interchange which is now open

Travelers in Johnson County woke up to great news this morning. The nearly three-year, $288 million Johnson County Gateway project is a step closer to completion. Today marks the opening of the 95th Street and I-35 diverging diamond interchange in Lenexa.

Tuesday, Interim Kansas Transportation Secretary Richard Carlson, along with Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm, Gateway Interchange Constructors Bill Clarkson and Kansas Department of Transportation Project Director Paul Gripka, celebrated this milestone at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and officially declared this portion of the project completed.

This is the fourth diverging diamond interchange in the Kansas City metro area and it will pave the way for new opportunities for existing and future development.
Construction of the interchange began in February and has been closed to traffic for six months. Secretary Carlson commented on how important the opening of this interchange is to area businesses and travelers.

We know the full closure of this interchange came with many traffic delays and we understand what this means to commuters,” said Secretary Carlson. “This project will make the daily commute faster, more efficient and comfortable, while providing benefits to businesses in the 95th Street corridor.”
A nighttime view of the 95th St. & I-35 diverging diamond interchange. 

The broader I-435/1-35/K-10 Gateway area carries more than 230,000 vehicles daily  and that number is expected to grow by 150,000 in just 25 years.
Construction of the Gateway was prompted by the  expected growth in traffic, needed repair, economic development and safety concerns. The Gateway, which is the state’s first major design-build project, is expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2016.
This map explains how traffic is designed to move.
More information can be found at 

Check out the video below for a flyover view of the new diverging diamond interchange. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Are you addicted?

It’s a common message: “Don’t Text and Drive.” The dangers of texting and driving are real and yet; lives are still forever changed when that split-second glance behind the wheel turns that smart phone into a dangerous weapon.

With all the warnings and advisories filling our airwaves why is it so hard for us to drive distraction free?
Scientists and psychologists may have an answer to that. 

The Science:
Inside our brains lives a little compound called “Dopamine.” It is what gives us the drive to pursue the things we love such as eating, hobbies, and romance. According to Psychology  Today, Dopamine is also responsible for various addictions that we deal with on a daily basis. For some of us, if our bodies were like vehicles, Dopamine would be the pilot.

The Psychology:
Over 100 years ago a Russian Physiologist, Ivan Pavlov, made a huge behavioral discovery: classical conditioning.  Using dogs and food he was able to deduce that they would start drooling anytime he or his assistants entered the room, even if they didn’t have food. The dogs’ brains were hardwired to expect a reward, (food)  when they saw lab coats. Pavlov further tested this process when he struck a bell at meal times. Eventually, he struck the bell without food and the dogs still salivated.

Mixing it together:
Dopamine, the reward center of our brains, mixed with the classical conditioning combines to what we deal with on an everyday basis: Technology addiction. When the message alert goes off on our cell phones, we immediately respond. Dopamine levels rise, and we get a “reward” when we pick up our phones. Remarkably, there are times when we want to be rewarded so much that we look at our phones without the alert, and expect something to happen. 

Studies have shown that when the alerts go off anxiety levels rise if they can’t be answered right away. If cell phones are left at home or lost, withdrawal symptoms are reported. Some would even say that they couldn’t live without their phones and for many, this is a reality. These tiny devices hold our schedules, our contacts, important information and there are even apps that save lives. As a society, our phones connect us to the world around us, and for many, that connection is just too strong to ignore.

All of these things combine to make texting and driving a serious habit that is hard to break.  Even with all these behavioral and scientific answers, it is still wise to turn your phone off or on silent, tuck them away, watch the road, and drive.  It can wait. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Motoring Monday: Flint Hills Discovery Center

More than 250 million years ago, the area was covered with shallow inland seas. Today the Flint Hills yield plenty of fossils of prehistoric sea creatures. These are a few of the first things you learn while touring the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan. The center highlights the geology, biology and cultural history of the Flint Hills to inspire people to explore and care for the unique region.
The center has been open since August 2012. It includes exhibits designed to encourage visitors to explore firsthand places within the 22-county Flint Hills region of Kansas.
There are also numerous traveling exhibits such as the Amazing Dinosaurs exhibit that can be seen at the center until mid-September.  
Find out more about the Flint Hills Discovery Center at

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Too hot: How you can rescue a pet in need

Earlier this summer a young puppy was rescued when baseball fans heard it crying following a Royals game in Kansas City. Reports say that it was one of the hottest days of the year and the puppy was most likely in the car for a few hours.  The fans immediately took the steps necessary to rescue the hot pup and get it to safety. The story has a happy ending and the puppy was re-homed.

What can you do when you see a trapped animal in a car?
Most animals left in cars are dogs of all shapes and sizes and the heat can affect them quickly . KDOT encourages you to check with your local law enforcement to understand what you can do when you see a pet trapped in a car on a hot day. 
According to the Humane Society’s website there are a few steps you should remember to take before you start smashing windows. 
  • You should start by taking down the car’s information and description. What is the make and model of the car? What color is it? What is the license plate number?
  • If you are in a parking lot attempt to get a hold of the manager or employee from the store or business. Have them try to find the owner.
  •  If that fails, call the NON-emergency phone number for your local law enforcement and explain the situation. Then wait for them to give you further instructions or for them arrive.
  • Fortunately, some states have Good Samaritan laws that may protect you should you try to rescue the animal. But it is a good idea to know the laws beforehand and it couldn’t hurt to ask local law enforcement first.

If the pet is showing any signs of heat distress get it to a cool area and apply cool, not cold, water if possible. Then call a local veterinarian for further assistance.

Remember, if you see something, say something. It is never okay to leave a pet inside a hot car. Cracked windows will not keep them cool. If its too hot for you, its way too hot for them. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

#WZW Diverging Diamond Interchange in Junction City

The interchange for I-70 and U.S. 77, with a diverging diamond interchange. 
A differently designed interchange will soon be coming to the I-70/U.S. 77 interchange on the west side of Junction City. A diverging diamond is a type of interchange in which two direction of traffic on the non-freeway road cross to the opposite side on both sides of the bridge at the freeway.

The project was let earlier this spring and construction begins this summer. How traffic passes through the DDI is unconventional, but easily understood by drivers unfamiliar with the design. This location was chosen because of it's importance to freight movement for trucks.

The DDI has many advantages over a traditional Diamond Interchange when dealing with high traffic volumes and a high percentage of tractor-trailers by reducing the number of conflict points. The benefits are listed below.
Safety Benefits
  • Fewer conflict points (14 for DDI, 26 for conventional)
  • Conflict points spread out throughout interchange
  • Better sight distance at turns
  • Virtually no driver confusion (FHWA study and new DDI observations in Springfield, MO)
  • Traffic calming features when desired
  • Wrong way entry to ramps extremely difficult
  • Pedestrian crossings are shorter
Operational Benefits

  • Unique phase combinations
  • “Free” or simple left and right turns from all directions
  • Increases left turn lane capacity without needing more lanes
  • Only two phases needed, shorter cycle length
  • Lanes with multiple assignments in all directions
  • Better storage between the ramp terminals
  • More functional during a power outage
  • U-turns from highway are accommodated well
  • Better signal network synchronization

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Contests provide creative, educational opportunities for students

Contests sponsored by the Kansas DOT, the Kansas Turnpike and other transportation-safety organizations across the state

Each year, vehicular crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day is a national safety campaign that was created to raise safety awareness and end vehicle-related deaths. The official day is Oct. 10 every year. This national safety campaign was started in 2001 by Larry Emig, former KDOT Chief of Local Projects. His ultimate dream is a day with no fatalities.

KDOT and numerous other traffic safety organizations work together to raise awareness as part of this effort. In addition to the 20-day safety blog series and statewide news conference, two contests are now open for students to enter creative works and spread the word:

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day Poster Contest
Kansas kids ages 5 through 13 are invited to enter artwork representing their thoughts on “Put the Brakes on Fatalities.” Regional winners in the three age categories will be chosen. Then, three statewide winners will be selected from the 18 regional winners!”

ForContest Rules, Prizes and Entry Form CLICK HERE
Entries Due: September 23

Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day Video Contest
Kansas teens grades 8-12 are welcome to enter a 6-60 second video highlighting the importance of ending traffic-related fatalities. Participants are encouraged to be creative, but safe while filming.

Entries Due: September 25

Monday, August 8, 2016

Motoring Monday: Stevens County Gas and Historical Museum

The Stevens County Gas and Historical Museum was established in 1961 to tell the story of the Hugoton Gas Field, which at one time, was the largest natural gas field in the world. The gas well, drilled in 1945, is still producing and the 1945 well equipment is on display at the site of the well.
The main museum displays early 1900 furnishings including a chapel, dining room, parlor, kitchen and sewing room. There are also Indian artifacts, farming tools, a printing and western shop and an art room.
Also on the museum complex in Hugoton is the Santa Fe Hugoton Train Depot, an 1887 school house, the first jail house, an early day grocery store and more.
For details on the museum, click here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The road to the Summer Olympics

Kansas athletes ready for Rio

Photo Credits:
Amy Cragg:; Nico Hernandez:
Lydia Paterson: Jack Sock: 
Every four years the entire world comes together to celebrate and witness incredible acts of athleticism and astounding feats that defy limitations. The dreams of hundreds of athletes are realized as they take their first steps into the Summer Olympics arena.
Among those dreamers are 4 Kansas athletes and 20 other athletes who have ties to the Sunflower State.  (some of these athletes are competing for other countries, but they attended Kansas schools and universities)

According to the Wichita Eagle, the 4 Kansans that are representing the USA are:
Amy Cragg, Leavenworth – Track and Field
Nico Hernandez, Wichita – Boxing
Lydia Paterson, Kansas City  – Shooting

Jack Sock, Kansas City  Tennis 

Opening Ceremonies begin Friday, August 5. What events are you looking forward to watching?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: Reconstructing an intersection in Lakin

A project that will rebuild the intersection of U.S. 50 and K-25 in Lakin, replacing the asphalt pavement with concrete began in late June. Once the intersection has been reconstructed, the contractor will do a heavy preservation project on U.S. 50 through town, replacing the top six inches of pavement with new asphalt.

Smoky Hill, LLC, of Salina is the primary contractor on this TWORKS preservation project at a cost of $1.8 million. KDOT expects work on this project to be completed by the end of October, depending on weather. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Motoring Monday: Henry's Candy Company

While Tom Henry was working in Arkansas City in 1919, he created a candy bar and called it the Tom Henry bar. Slight changes were made to the recipe and it later became the Oh Henry! bar that is known today.
A few years later, Tom opened a candy store in Little Rock, Ark. In 1956, his son, Patrick, opened Henry’s Candy Company in Dexter in Cowley County. Patrick’s daughter, Evelyn Henry Pudden, and other family members still run Henry’s Candies some 60 years later and make more than 100 different varieties of sweet treats. They even use some of the equipment from their grandfather’s former store.
The store in Dexter also features a Momma Henry bar that uses the original Tom Henry bar recipe. Henry’s Candy Company is open 363 day a year (closed Christmas and New Year’s Day), but they don’t make candy every day.
Call ahead, groups and tours are welcome.  For more information, click here.