Thursday, December 29, 2016

Traffic sign replacement among approved projects in December letting.

A project to replace traffic signs on all major collector routes in Marshall County (with the exception of RS-436 and RS-1222 in the City of Blue Rapids) was one of six projects approved in the December KDOT letting. The new signs will enhance the safety of the travelling public. Signs Up LTD DBA Haren's Trees and Critters of Webster City, Iowa, is the contractor on the $319,000 project.
A total of 1,032 flat signs and 871 object markers are part of the sign improvement project.

To see all of the projects approved in the December letting, click here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Winter Ready Wednesdays: Should you warm up your vehicle?

We all have heard this advice from time to time: "You need to let your car warm up before you drive it."

But if you a driving a car that uses fuel injection, allowing your car to sit idle in your driveway on a cold day is not only unnecessary, it may actually do more harm than good to your car.

The following video explains why idling your car can lead to a damaged engine:
As the video explains, the misconception is based on fact. Prior to the late 1980s, vehicles used carburetors which really did need more time to warm up for the engine to work efficiently and safely.

Today, most mechanics suggest allowing modern engines to warm for about 30 seconds prior to driving. They also suggest that driving your car gently at first helps to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on the engine.

On cold, dry days it may be a good idea to enjoy that last sip of coffee a little longer before you head out into the chilly weather.

If you are unsure about what your car needs to make it through the winter, check with your mechanic. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

KDOT District Two wins award for two projects

The Belleview Subarea office in District Two has something to celebrate as the new year approaches.
The American Concrete Pavement Association honored two KDOT road projects in northeast Kansas with Silver Place in the Excellence in Concrete Pavement Award. The two projects were tied and share this national award. 

According to District Two, Area Two Construction Engineer, Jean Istas, The primary project was pavement . reconstruction on U.S. 36 beginning 0.2 mile east of U.S. 81 junction, then east 1.1 miles through Belleville. The next project was a reconstruction of the bridge of Riley Creek between U.S. 81 junction and U.S. 36.

The major work on these projects began in March 2015 and ended in November 2015. The project was officially completed in the spring of this year after striping and seeding. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Happy Holidays from KDOT

KDOT wants to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season!

If any "elves" need something to do during the festivities. We have created a coloring activity page for them to decorate.  Click on the image to download the full-sized sheet. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Ready Wednesdays: Q&A with District 1 Maintenance Superintendent Drake Jennings

According to a popular song, many of us are probably dreaming of a White Christmas this year. While snow can be beautiful and fascinating, not everyone gets to experience it from the comforts of home. KDOT maintenance crews work tirelessly to ensure that Kansas keeps moving during inclement weather.

We interviewed District 1 Maintenance Superintendent out of Olathe, Drake Jennings, about his experiences during inclement weather and what his crew goes through as they plow the roads and clear the way.
Q. Not every snow storm is the same. What it is like to go out and face extreme weather to keep the roadways clear?

It’s extremely hard work; most people think it’s just driving a truck. But not only are you driving that truck, you are operating the plow, the wing plow, and the hopper applying salt to the roadways. On top of that, you have to watch the road to keep your truck in the lane you’re plowing, and of course watch all the other traffic at the same time.

Q. How long can it take to clear the roads in your area?

The time to remove the snow depends on the amount. A three-inch snow will usually take us about three days to clean it up. If we get a big snow storm it can take us up to two weeks to clean it up.

Q. Can you name a particular time when inclement weather required a lot of manpower to fight the storm?

I think it was in 2003 or 2004, we got a big storm. It was a mixture of ice and snow, it was extremely hard for us to keep our trucks on the road because of all the ice. I was in a truck treating on the ramp from eastbound 435 to State Line Road. I was treating the high side of the ramp, when my truck slid from one side of the ramp to the other. It was like that all over Johnson County. I remember that storm because my kids were very young. I got called out in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve. My kids woke up Christmas morning to see what Santa brought them without me, they were extremely upset and couldn’t understand why their dad had to go to work and miss Christmas morning with them. I tried to explain to them that sometimes dad has to go to work to make the roads safe, so all of the other dads could get home to spend time with their kids. They said it just wasn’t fair. They never did think it was ever fair, but they did realize that what I did on that Christmas Day was so others could get home safe to celebrate with their families. 

Q. What is it like for KDOT crews to go out into a snow storm, clear the roads during treacherous weather and then try to return to some normalcy when the work is finished?  

It’s extremely hard, adrenaline is running very high, it’s what helps the guys get through the long hours and hard work. During a storm we split into two shifts, my day crews work from 8 a.m to 8 p.m., then my night crews work from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Those are long 12-hour shifts and it takes a special kind of person to do what my employees do. Depending on how many days we work those hours, it sometimes takes three to four days for the operators to get back to their normal routine, it messes with their diet and their sleeping.

Q. Is there anything you want our readers to understand when KDOT crews are out on the roads?

Just give us room to work. It takes us a while to get the roads back to normal, especially if we get ice then snow, and the temperatures are really cold. Please be patience and give us time to do our jobs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

KDOT explores use of Kansas volcanic ash in concrete

Pop Quiz: When you are walking on a sidewalk are you walking on cement or concrete?

If you answered concrete, you are correct.

Concrete is the result of cement mixed with aggregate, sand and water.  Cement is the binder that hold everything together.

In an effort to explore using alternative materials in concrete, KDOT’s Bureau of Research explored the possibility of using Kansas volcanic ash as a supplementary cementitious material, or SCMs. SCMs are materials other than cement that are used to bind the mixture to create concrete.  A popular SCM is fly ash which is a waste product of coal. Because industries are switching to natural gas, coal isn’t being used as often and subsequently, a reduction in fly ash is the result.

KDOT primarily uses fly ash in KDOT concrete projects and bridge decks to improve strength and permeability characteristics.
At one time, the Rocky Mountains were volcanic and erupted sending ash into parts of Kansas. Because the ash is still present, KDOT decided to test the ash to see if this was a local resource that could be used.

Unfortunately, the report found that Kansas volcanic ash is not a viable substitute,

“Testing indicated that Kansas volcanic ash has few cementitious properties and as a result, when added to concrete, it has several possible negative effects, including increased bleed, increased set time, negative effect on strength, permeability, and finishing,” the report said.

Rick Kreider, Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Research, said that although Kansas volcanic ash is not an option for a SCM, the in-house research project was still a success because KDOT found that using this substance would not be a suitable solution. 

Image source:

Thursday, December 15, 2016

#IAMKDOT: Nathan Blankinship

This month's #IAMKDOT is Nathan Blankinship who has worked at KDOT for about three years and he is an Equipment Operator at the KDOT Sedan Subarea in southeast Kansas.

In this illustration, Nathan is shown leveling a sign post along K-99 in Chautauqua County. 

When he is not working for KDOT, Nathan farms east of Sedan, raising cattle and pigs, and is a custom hay baler. In addition to farming and custom baling, in his off-duty hours he volunteers with the Sedan Rural Fire Department. Nathan’s dog, a red heeler named Abby, even has her own Facebook page, ‘Abby the Chautauqua County Fire Dog.’

#IAMKDOT is an illustration project that recognizes KDOT employees who work hard to ensure Kansans enjoy safe roads, rails and skies. Safe and successful transportation also helps Kansans financially. Some employees of KDOT fill dangerous but necessary positions and this project also serves as a reminder for travelers to slow down and remember that underneath those neon vests, are individuals with families and hobbies waiting for them at home.

Do you know a KDOT worker that deserves recognition? Nominations are open! Email today to get started! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Winter Ready Wednesdays: Cold weather vehicle care

Snow is in the forecast once again this weekend. Is your vehicle prepared for travel? Extreme temperatures can be especially hard on cars. Here are some winterizing tips for your vehicle.

Make sure your car has enough of the fluids listed below:

Coolant: To keep your water from freezing inside your radiator, make sure you have the correct antifreeze/water ratio. All vehicles are different, check your owner’s manual or mechanic to make sure.

Oil: Make sure your oil is full and clean to avoid sludgy buildup.

Wiper fluid:  Because your windshield can become obstructed by slush and mud, windshield wiper fluid is an important tool during the winter. Check these levels often and use this time to inspect your wipers as well.  

It is a good idea to have back-up containers of these fluids in your vehicle.

Inspect your battery: Cold weather can kill batteries, and could leave you stranded. Inspect your car battery's wires for cracks and breaks. Inspect the connections for any corrosion and if your battery is three years old or more, get it inspected. 

Check your tires: Think of your tires as the sneakers for your car. If your sneakers are worn down you could slip on the ice. The same thing can happen with little or no tread on your tires. A good way to tell if you have plenty of tread is to place a penny in the grooves. If the top of Lincoln’s head is partially covered then you have enough tread.

Another important tire element to remember is tire pressure.  Every 10 degree change in outside temperature can cause your tire’s pressure to gain or lose one PSI.

Fill ‘er up
: It is always wise to keep your gas tank at least half full during the colder months. If your tank is below half, it the chance of a gas line freeze increases. A full gas tank full also ensures that you can stay warmer longer if you become stranded while traveling.

Check your car’s heater and defrost:
You may be able to survive quick trips without a working car heater but if the defrost doesn’t work, driving can become dangerous.  During inclement weather, snow and ice can build up fast on your windshield and visibility can disappear rapidly.  Don’t wait until the last minute to get this fixed.

And finally, before you take to the road, remember that one of the best ways to be prepared is to check the road conditions at or by dialing 511. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

KDOT projects recognized at awards ceremony

Hard work doesn’t always get rewarded, but four KDOT districts received six awards for various projects at this year’s Kansas Asphalt Paving Association’s awards program held on December 1, in Lawrence.

The 2016 KAPA Workmanship and Engineering awards consisted of 22 awards in six categories. A total of 22 projects were nominated by Hot-Mix Asphalt Paving Contractors for the 2016 KAPA Awards program. The judges said that they traveled 2150 miles in four days reviewing and rating all projects. Although they said the ratings were close, KDOT and several of its contractors received top prizes in the following categories: The KAPA Director’s Award, Full Depth Paving Award,  and Overlay One Inch or Greater.

The Kansas Department of Transportation’s mission is to provide a statewide transportation system to meet the needs of Kansas. With or without awards, KDOT crews work diligently to ensure that purpose continues to keep Kansas moving. 

Left, Catherine Patrick, KDOT State Transportation Engineer (Left) and Joshua Welge, (grey jacket) Metro South Engineer in District One, accepts the First Place Director’s award for the Johnson County Gateway project. side Dan Scherschligt, Executive Director, Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Inc stands to the right.
Left, Catherine Patrick, KDOT State Transportation Engineer (Left) and Dean Jay, (purple shirt) Project Engineer in District Three, accepts the First Place in Overlay 1 Inch or Greater award for the US-24 project in Graham County. This project was tied with another. Dan Scherschligt, Executive Director, Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Inc stands to the right

Left, Catherine Patrick, KDOT State Transportation Engineer (Left) and Paul Gripka, (grey shirt) Design Build Manager in District One, accepts the First Place 1 Inch or Greater award for the Johnson County Gateway project. This project also tied with another. Dan Scherschligt, Executive Director, Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Inc stands to the right.
Left, Catherine Patrick, KDOT State Transportation Engineer (Left) and Zane Perez, (purple shirt) Project Engineer in District Three, accepts the Second Place Directors Award, for the US-83 project in Sheridan County.
  Dan Scherschligt, Executive Director, Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Inc stands to the right.

Left, Catherine Patrick, KDOT State Transportation Engineer (Left) and A.J. Wilson, (white shirt) Project Engineer in District Five, accepts the Second Place Overlay 1 Inch or Greater award; for the US-160 project in Sumner County. Dan Scherschligt, Executive Director, Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Inc stands to the right. 
Left, Catherine Patrick, KDOT State Transportation Engineer (Left) and George Dockery, (red shirt and jacket) Area Engineer in District Four, accepts the Second place Full Depth Paving award, for the US-400 project in Labette County. Dan Scherschligt, Executive Director, Kansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Inc stands to the right. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Winter Ready Wednesdays: Plowing roadways

The average daily value of freight moving across Kansas highways is more than $606 million. What would happen to our economy if those roads were impassable due to snow and ice?

Parts of the state may see some winter precipitation today and KDOT crews are ready to combat inclement weather with some of the strongest winter weather fighting machines around: Snow plows.

KDOT has 591 trucks that can be used to clear snow and ice off of roadways.  Snow plows are a common sight during wintery months. These giant vehicles are essential to traveler safety and for ensuring that commerce continues to move across the 10,000 miles (25,000 lane miles) of the state highway system.

 For a second year, motorists may get a chance to see another winter weather weapon: The tow plow. 

The tow plow is a 26-foot-long, independently-steerable mounted plow that covers the right side of the lane. It allows a single driver to plow two lanes at a time and frees up other crew members who can concentrate on other highways needing snow removal. 

Last year, KDOT tested two of these plows in two different parts of the state. One tow plow was tested in Olathe’s heavy traffic. Another plow was tested in Colby due to its rural area and windier climate along the highways. KDOT has plans to purchase more tow plows in the future. 

Whether or not your area sees snow today, you can be sure that KDOT crews will be ready to operate these hefty machines in an effort to keep Kansas moving. 

As the winter months move in, KDOT will use a variety of methods to clear roads and infrastructure and help Kansans travel safely.  For the next several Wednesdays, we will share with you more ways that KDOT works to keep Kansas moving during inclement weather.

For up to date road conditions, check or dial 51

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Art contest highlighting aviation takes flight

The KDOT Division of Aviation officials are encouraging young artists take their talents to new heights by participating in the 2017 International Aviation Art Contest, “Beyond the Clouds.”

The contest, for which there is no entry fee, is for artists ages 6 to 17 years of age and is intended to “celebrate the adventures and excitement only available in that special place beyond the clouds.” It is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the Federal Aviation Administration and others.

Artists will compete in age groups:
  • Those born between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2010
  • Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2006
  •  And Jan. 1, 1999, and Dec. 31, 2002

The top three state winners from each age group will have their work entered in the national competition. The three winners in each group at the national level will then have their entries considered in international competition.

State winners will receive a certificate and state recognition; national winners will receive certificates, ribbons and a framed reproduction of their artwork; and international winners will receive certificates and medals.

The deadline for entries, which cannot be computer-generated and must be submitted in 11¾-by-16½-inch format, is Jan. 20, 2017.

For more information and contest rules, visit

Monday, December 5, 2016

U.S. 83 Bridge repair let

KDOT’s November letting included 24 projects across the state totaling approximately $24.6 million.
One of the projects will repair the U.S. 83 bridge located at the I-70/U.S. 83 junction in Thomas County. The repairs consist of removal of concrete and deck patching, followed by placement of a new concrete overlay and railing. Plans also include installation of galvanic nodes, which will help protect the reinforcing steel from corrosion.

To see all of the projects in the November letting, click here.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning this winter

Chilly weather is setting in and the thought of waking up earlier to warm up your vehicle before work can leave many feeling cold.

If you choose to warm up your car it is important to do so safely. Before you turn that key, be aware of your surroundings. If you are in an enclosed place with no air circulation you could be putting yourself at risk from carbon monoxide gas exposure.
Also known as “the silent killer” carbon monoxide (or CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be dangerous if precautions are not taken to avoid poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 400 Americans die from unintentional CO poisoning a year. In that same time frame, more than 20,000 visit emergency rooms and 4,000 are hospitalized.

Symptoms from CO poisoning can be easily confused with the flu. The most common symptoms include: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, chest pain, confusion and vomiting.

Here are some ways you can prevent CO exposure while you are operating or inside a vehicle:
  •  Most drivers understand that starting your car in an enclosed garage is not a good idea. But starting a car with a garage attached to your home could put you in danger as well.
  • Similarly, never start your car inside a garage, even if the doors are open. It is best to back out and close the garage door before you start your car. 
  • Be sure to have your exhaust system checked by a mechanic every year. A small leak in the system could cause CO to build up in your car.
  • Clear the tailpipe of any ice or snow during inclement weather. If the exhaust pipe is blocked, CO could build up in your car as well.
  • Keyless ignition vehicles are growing in popularity. They should always be checked to make sure they are turned off. The car could still be running, even if the keys are not inside.
  • Keep the doors locked, and keep children away from the keys. Never leave a child unattended where they could have access to the car and never leave them inside a car alone.
It is a busy time of year, and mistakes do happen. It is a good idea to purchase a CO detector for you home just in case. Most injuries and deaths occur while the victims are sleeping.

For more information on how to prevent CO poisoning in your home or work check out the CDC’s safety guidelines here.