Thursday, June 30, 2016

Motoring Monday: Riverside Park

The overlook at Riverside Park
This Motoring Monday feature is a few days early as next Monday is July 4, a state holiday.

Riverside Park is located on the northeast edge of Oswego. It is an 80-acre park along a bluff that overlooks the historic Neosho Crossing and the Neosho River. The park includes the Labette County fairgrounds, an RV park, swimming pool, ball fields, a 10,000-square foot community center, shelters, gardens, tennis courts, and an observation point with spectacular views of the Neosho River Valley from the 100-foot bluff.

 The land along the bluff was purchased for the park in about 1885 by a group of local women who raised the money to pay for it by conducting food sales and ice cream socials. Many of the structures in the current park were developed and built with the help of New Deal programs during the Great Depression. 

Riverside Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in July 2012. For more information on the park, click here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Get out and travel this Independence Day

           If you are planning on traveling this long Independence Day weekend we want to remind you to be safe.
AAA Kansas predicts that 3.3 million people in this region will travel more than 50 miles over the holiday – the most Independence Day travelers since 2007. Kansas gas prices that are the lowest since 2005, will boost travel to a record level this year, according to Jim Hanni of AAA Kansas.  Gas prices are 44 cents or 17% lower than they were a year ago.
            KDOT and KHP safety experts caution travelers not to drink and drive. In 2014, 397 people were killed in traffic crashes throughout the nation during the Fourth of July holiday weekend and164 were alcohol-related. In 2015 in Kansas there were 417 crashes over the July 4 reporting period (6 p.m. Thursday July 2, 2015, through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 5, 2015.)  Two of those were fatality crashes and 99 were injury crashes. Of the 417 total crashes, 33 were alcohol-related.
            Law enforcement agencies from across the state will be actively watching for impaired drivers.
            “Travelers are going to take to the highway throughout the holiday weekend and we want them to take steps to make it to their destination safely,” KHP Lt. Adam Winters said. “We want people to enjoy the holiday weekend, but we want you to be safe doing so. For those planning to drink over the weekend, designate your sober driver before you celebrate. And any time you ride in a vehicle, buckle up and make sure children are in the appropriate child safety seats.”            
            Drivers can check KanDrive before leaving home for route delays and construction on KanDrive includes camera images and interactive maps as well as links to rest areas and travel and tourism sites. KanDrive can be accessed from a smartphone.
Much of the same information can be accessed by calling 5-1-1 in Kansas or 1-
866-511-KDOT (5368) in the U.S.

Know before you go by using these services from home or in a vehicle that is parked in a safe location. If you are involved in a crash on a Kansas highway call *47 (*HP) from a cell phone for a highway patrol dispatcher or if on the Kansas Turnpike, dial *582 (*KTA) or 911. 
If you are planning on taking the Kansas Turnpike, the State Farm Safety Assist program is being expanded to provide assistance to travelers with roadside emergencies. The State Farm Safety Assist technicians are equipped with various equipment and tools prepared to help in any way they can, from assisting in tire changes, directing traffic, minor mechanical solutions and transportation to safety. All services offered are free to travelers thanks to State Farm’s sponsorship of the Kansas Turnpike’s program.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Motoring Monday: Fourth of July celebrations

Fireworks light up the sky in Wamego.
Hundreds of Fourth of July celebrations will be taking place across Kansas this weekend as well as next Monday. Celebrations in northwest, north central, northeast, southwest, south central and southeast  Kansas are highlighted below.
Goodland’s 4th of July Freedom Festival – The cattle drive begins at 4 p.m. east of Goodland. Then other events will start at 6 p.m. at the Sherman County Fairgrounds and will include carnival rides, live entertainment and food before the fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m. on July 4.
Salina’s Skyfire! Fireworks Display - A free concert will take place from 7-9 p.m. at the East Crawford Rec Area on July 4. The flag lowering and taps by the American Legion Riders will be shortly after 9 p.m.  Fireworks show will start at 10 p.m. 
Wamego Fireworks Show – Lots of events will be happening all day on July 4 around Wamego with a city carnival, car show, hot wheel races, ice cream and cake social, vocal and band concerts and parade leading up to the fireworks at the Recreation Complex at 10 p.m.
Dodge City’s Old Fashioned Fourth During the afternoon and early evening on July 4 at the Boot Hill Museum, there will be a watermelon feed, a seed spitting contest, a gunfight reenactment and games for the kids with a concert starting at 6:30 p.m. The fireworks will then be at Memorial Stadium at 10 p.m.
Derby Independence Day Celebration – During the evening on July 4, the celebration at High Park in Derby will include music, an ice cream social and kids’ activities with the fireworks starting at 9:30 p.m.
Fort Scott’s 4th of July – The fireworks will take place at the Fort Scott Community College about 9 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. Then on Monday, July 4, there will be a parade and other activities taking place in Fort Scott throughout the day.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Heat Stroke Awareness at the South Steps Fridays

This Friday at the South Steps Fridays event at the Kansas Capitol, there will be a heat demonstration, to show how quickly your car can heat up to a deadly level. This video, from the Kansas Department of Children and Families,  shows a demonstration from the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office from two weeks ago.

This week's event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the statehouse lawn.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday- Preservation on U.S. 40

For those born after 1960, U.S. 40 has always been a part of Interstate 70 in Kansas from the Kansas/Missouri state line west to Oakley. Not that long ago U.S. 40 stood alone as a major national highway across the USA. Now the only remaining section of U.S. 40 that's not a county road, is a stretch of former U.S. 40, from Salina to Ellsworth, and goes by the name of K-140. 

While the name may have changed the preservation of this length of roadway remains the same. Earlier this spring, work began on a bridge replacement on K-140 within the city of Brookville. The existing bridge will be removed and replaced with a new bridge. Traffic is reduced to one lane controlled by traffic signals and has a lane width restriction of 12 feet. Then beginning in early June, two more bridge replacement projects on the Ellsworth side of the Ellsworth/Saline County line began. These bridge projects follow a number are resurfacing projects conducted in the last five years and are a small but necessary part of preserving the highways here in Kansas.

The next time you are in the area take a drive on K-140 and drive on the last remnant of historical U.S. 40.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Growing turf grass

Kansas State University professor Jared Hoyle, PhD, along with researchers Jacob Reeves and Evan Alderman, are studying turf grass on a plot of land on  U.S. 283 near WaKeeney. The two-year-study is testing the right blend of turf grass that will do well on Kansas roadsides. Please watch the video and let Hoyle explain what they are doing on the side of the road, and how it will be beneficial to all roadsides in Kansas.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Motoring Monday: Cimarron National Grassland

The Point of Rocks at Cimarron National Grassland
The Cimarron National Grassland in Morton and Stevens counties comprises more than 108,000 acres and features three ecosystems (shortgrass prairie, sand-sage prairie and wooded riparian). It is the largest tract of public land in Kansas and is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

The Dust Bowl era of the 1930s left the land in poor condition so in 1938, the federal government purchased the land to restore it.  Now, bird watching, scenic driving, hunting, picnicking, camping, fishing and experiencing history are some of the activities people come to enjoy. A 30-mile self-guided auto tour travels along the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

The third highest point in Kansas, Point of Rocks, is on the grassland at 3,540 feet. From here, Colorado and Oklahoma are visible on clear days.

For more information click here.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: A face lift on U.S. 36 in Norton

U.S. 36 in Norton, before the work began this summer.
U.S. 36 through Norton is getting a face lift this summer as part of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Geometric Improvement program.

The project, which began in April, will reconstruct and widen the existing four-lane roadway from West Ave. to near the U.S. 283 junction. Each lane will be widened from 10 1/2 feet to 12 feet. The expansion is necessary to improve roadway conditions and accommodate large truck traffic through the city limits. Smoky Hill LLC is the primary contractor for the project, which is expected to be completed by the end of October, weather permitting.

KDOT is funding approximately 75 percent of the $1.9 million project, with the city covering the remainder.
Work being done on U.S. 36 in Norton. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Preservation project coming to Copeland

A $2.7 million preservation project will replace the asphalt pavement with concrete on U.S. 56 through Copeland. The planned improvements also include replacing or repairing curb and gutter and storm sewers. Smoky Hill, LLC, of Salina is the contractor.

This is one of 24 projects recently approved in the May 25 construction letting. To see the rest of the projects, click here.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Motoring Monday: Tanganyika Wildlife Park

A fun view of a giraffe
Take a trip to Tanganyika Park and not only learn about the animals, but interact with many of them as well. Visitors to the park can feed lemurs, giraffes and larakeets and even walk among kangaroos.
The park began as a zoo supply business and has evolved to a facility for breeding endangered species from around the world.
There are more than 300 animals at the park – including African penguins, snow leopards, Indian rhinoceros, white Bengal tigers, red pandas and pygmy hippos. They offer educational programs for children and flashlight/overnight safaris. The park is located north of U.S. 400 in Goddard.
For more information, go to

Friday, June 10, 2016

How hot is the inside of that car?

Later today there will be a heat stroke safety demonstration at the South Steps Fridays event at the Kansas Capitol.

The demonstration will show how hot it can get inside of a car, and how quickly that heat turns deadly. They will also give tips and reminders about how to not forget your child in the car.

Today's event is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kansas Capitol, 300 S.W. 10th St., Topeka. If you are unable to come to the event, you can see the social media efforts on twitter @DriveSafeKansas or

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Land and Sky Scenic Byway officially designated in northwest Kansas

The Kansas Byways Program has grown by one with the addition of the newly- designated Land and Sky Scenic Byway in northwest Kansas.
            Land and Sky is the 12th Kansas byway to receive official designation from the Kansas Department of Transportation. The byway covers parts of Wallace, Sherman and Cheyenne counties.
            “We are excited to extend the byway program into northwest Kansas with the Land and Sky Scenic Byway,” said Kansas Transportation Secretary and Director of the Kansas Turnpike Mike King. “The state designation will create greater awareness of the agricultural significance and scenic beauty of this area for visitors and spur interest in the communities along the route.”
            The 88-mile route on K-27 begins in Wallace County in Sharon Springs, runs north through Goodland in Sherman County, and ends in Cheyenne County north of St. Francis at the Kansas/Nebraska border. Travelers along the byway have the opportunity to experience the Wallace Branch of the Great Western Cattle Trail, scale the highest point in Kansas at Mount Sunflower and explore the deep canyons and rugged landscape of the Arikaree Breaks. The byway is also the only one in the state that focuses on agriculture and features thousands of acres of rotating crops, livestock and wildlife along the route.
            “With its unique land formations and strong agricultural roots, we feel the Land and Sky Scenic Byway can help tell the story of agriculture to an increasingly urbanized nation,” Secretary King said. “Those driving along the byway will be able to see where some of their food is grown and maybe better understand the work of Kansas farmers and ranchers.”           
            The state designation will result in the placement of route markers along the byway, inclusion in the Kansas Byways Guide, a page on the Kansas Byways website at and promotion on the Kansas Byways Facebook and Pinterest pages. The byway communities are also eligible for grant applications to enhance the route for visitors.
            Local team members who worked on the byway application process include Helen Dobbs of St. Francis, Jayne Pearce of Wallace and Donna Price and Roxie Yonkey of Goodland. The group also received assistance from the Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace county commissioners and numerous committee members from the area.

            The Kansas Byways program, a cooperative partnership of the KDOT; Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; Kansas State Historical Society; and local grassroots teams, identifies scenic and historic routes in the state and preserves, enhances and promotes the routes. For additional information, contact Scott Shields, Kansas Byways Coordinator, at 785-296-0853, or Sue Stringer, Kansas Byways Manager, at 800-684-6966.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Work Zone Wednesday: Sitka Junction

The Sitka Junction now. the truck is going south in this picture.
A project that came out of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s local consultation process and generated considerable local interest will soon wrap up east of Ashland in Clark County. The project rebuilt and relocated the intersection of U.S. 160, U.S. 183, and K-34 (known locally as the Sitka Junction). 
This view is from before the work was done on Sitka Junction.  
The project called for shifting a portion of U.S. 160, including the intersection, to the south and removing a portion of the hill just east of the junction. KDOT expects these changes to improve the sight distance for drivers at the intersection. 
Previously the only way to see the intersection was from on top of the hill.
Most of the highway work is completed and the final excavation of the hill should be completed in June. APAC-Kansas, Shears Division, of Hutchinson was the primary contractor at a cost of approximately $2.7 million.
KDOT is reducing the hill so that visibility is easier for drivers at Sitka Junction.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Motoring Mondays: Soda fountains, part two

Holmes Sundry in Hamilton
Last year in the Motoring Monday series, several communities that still have soda fountains were featured. That blog was so popular, we decided to highlight a few more locations across Kansas.  All of the existing soda fountains as of 2012 were featured by the Kansas Sampler Foundation in the “8 Wonders of Customs” category – that list can be seen here.
Old Mill Tasty Shop in Wichita
WaKeeney – Gibson Health Mart has been in business since 1892 with a soda fountain the entire time. The current soda fountain features nine stools and still makes Green Rivers and sodas, malts and shakes the old-fashioned way.
Marquette – City Sundries has original, late-1800s marble counters and tables, metal soda shop chairs, walnut and glass display cases and the original tile floor.
Bucklin – In the Main Street Market, you’ll find the fountain at the back of the store where they make their own syrup and use carbonated water. Make sure and ask about the Orange Cow.
City Sundries in Marquette
Oskaloosa – On the south side of the square is the County Corner Variety. Built in the 1950s, this fountain has nine stools. In addition to the fountain, they have breakfast items and popcorn and sweets on Saturday.
Hamilton – The 1920s soda fountain at the Holmes Sundry has a marble base and stools as well as the original syrup pumps and water spigots. To make the old-fashioned sodas, they mix the syrup and carbonated water separately and stir with a spoon.
Wichita – The Old Mill Tasty Shop opened in 1932 and features a 25-foot marble counter with 11 stools, a wooden back bar and brass foot rails. In addition to sodas and shakes, they have daily meal specials, sandwiches, soups and more.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

#WZW- Geometric Improvements in Coffeyville

This geometric improvement project is being done in Coffeyville. The cost of the project is $763,900, the state is contributing 90 percent of the cost, and the city covering the remainder. 
Today's Work Zone Wednesday project highlights a geometric improvement project in Coffeyville that started in late March at the intersection of East 8th Street and U.S. 166/169 in the city of Coffeyville. The work includes constructing a right turn lane with an island for 8th St. eastbound traffic turning south on U.S. 166, new concrete pavement and a new water line.

KDOT awards Geometric Improvement (GI) funding annually to help cities improve intersections and address road deficiencies. Roads selected for GI funding are part of the state highway system within city limits. The percent of state funding awarded for each project is based on the size of the city and ranges from 75 percent for the largest cities to 100 percent for the smallest communities. The cities provide matching funds to cover the remaining costs. 

This project, whose work is being done by Jeff Graham Construction, is expected to be completed by mid-July as long as weather permits. More information on this and other construction projects in Kansas can be found at KanDrive.