Monday, December 11, 2017

Two projects win ACPA Gold Awards


Aerial view of the South Lawrence Trafficway

KDOT projects continue to receive national attention. Earlier this month, the South Lawrence Trafficway (SLT) and a reconstruction project on U.S. 56 in Gray County received Gold Awards from the American Concrete Pavement Association at the Annual Excellence in Concrete Pavement Awards ceremony.

According to the ACPA, the awards program recognizes high-quality workmanship in concrete pavement project while serving to provide exposure as well as share information on highly successful projects. The program recognizes contractors, engineers, and project owners who completed the projects.

The South Lawrence Trafficway received a Gold Award in the Divided Highways Rural Division. The six-mile, four-lane freeway moved the existing K-10 onto a new alignment which has had a positive impact on travelers in Johnson, Douglas and Shawnee counties.

The $138 million project also contributed to the creation of 300 new acres of wetlands and bike paths.  Although the span of the project was only 6 miles, it was a total of 43.23 actual lane miles and the project wrapped up ahead of schedule.  The project is expected to benefit the region by $3.7 billion, the largest of any project under the T-WORKS program.

The SLT also received a Sustainable Practices Recognition award for its efforts to protect plants and animals in the Baker Wetlands. 
“Your lasting work provides a well-designed, long lasting highway while also meeting the delicate need for ecological balance in the wetlands,” according to the award.

HNTB Corp. was the engineer and Emery Sapp & Sons Inc., was the contractor on this KDOT project.


U.S. 56 in Ensign.

The reconstruction project of U.S. 56 in Gray County also won a Gold Award in the State Highway division. The project included a combined 7.6 miles of concrete reconstruction in the towns of Ensign and Montezuma.

According to the ACPA, the “Hardroaders” at Koss Construction Co. and their team of subcontractors didn’t waste time starting the project. The scope for the project was a four-phase project to be completed in 319 working days.

“With excellent communication and coordination between KDOT and the Koss team, the project was completed within the schedule, giving the owner and road users a high-quality, durable pavement.”

Transystems was the engineer for the project in Montezuma, the project in Ensign was designed by Professional Engineering Consultants and Koss Construction Co. was the contractor on this KDOT project.

The Kansas Department of Transportation takes pride in all of the projects and endeavors throughout the state and looks forward to continuing to provide these types of high-quality services to the people of Kansas.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Reaching new heights: Twenty pilots receive Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award


Six hundred months, 18,250 days…they both equal 50 years. That is the amount of time that pilots are required to fly before they can receive the most prestigious award that the Federal Aviation Administration issues ---  the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award. 

Last Saturday, 20 pilots from across the state gathered to receive the award from the FAA, which recognized their contributions to building and maintaining the safest aviation system in the world. For more than 50 years the pilots recognized and promoted safe air travel and operations.  This ceremony was the single largest collection of pilots that the FAA has recognized in the country. 

Pilots present  received their Wright Brothers Master Pilot Awards on the South lawn of Larksfield Place in Wichita.
To receive this award, the nominees must have flown accident free, exhibited professionalism, skill and a high degree of aviation expertise for at least 50 years as an active pilot.  The date of nominees’ first solo flight is the effective start date to receive the award. Having any airman certificate revoked would disqualify the nominees and they needed to have three letters of recommendation from peer pilots to be considered. Their piloting history was also a major factor.

Captain Doug Moler, a recipient of the award and the organizer of the event, said that, like most pilots, he was fascinated with flying early on in life.
“When I was a child, my dad would take the family out to the old municipal airport in the family car to watch airplanes come and go,” Moler said in his pilot biography. “This was great fun and unforgettable good times. As I got older, I began riding my bicycle out the old terminal every time I got the chance. It was quite a ride, about five miles each way, but well worth it.”

Moler said that when he turned 15 he rode in his first airplane, a Cessna 172.
“I wanted nothing more than to fly more and more, but it seemed as though I didn’t have a lot of help and guidance along the way,” Moler said.

When Moler turned 20 he began flight school and by 1965 he had learned to fly solo.
“The greatest day in my training was on March 10, 1965 when I flew my first solo,” Moler said. “Three takeoffs and landings to a full stop on runway 19 and I was in heaven! Soon I was out practicing all the maneuvers and flying cross-country. On August 21, 1965, I became a private pilot and flew every chance I got.”

Moler said he has had a successful piloting career and continues to stay active in the aviation community through several organizations and groups. He and his wife attend three or four fly-ins a year and share their love of aviation with their friends.
“I feel gifted by the Lord that I have been able to spend most of my working life doing something I dearly love and that I got paid well for it,” Moler said. “That’s something I thank God for everyday!”


Past award recipients and supporters were also in attendance at the ceremony. Spouses were given a pin for their support and dedication as well. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Westbound portion of Lewis and Clark Viaduct to be replaced

The photo above shows an overall view of the Lewis and Clark Viaduct looking west in to Kansas. 
A project to replace one of the bridges in the Lewis and Clark Viaduct was one of the projects included in the November KDOT Construction letting. This project is to replace the I-70 westbound bridge that spans the Kansas River and is nearing the end of its service life. Removal of the old bridge will begin in February.

The new bridge will be 2,980 feet long, have 20 new spans and 18 new piers. One of the new piers will be in the Kansas River. The new bridge will also contain more than 21,000 cubic yards of concrete and 3,100,000 pounds of reinforcing steel (excluding the drilled shafts and prestressed concrete beams). The bridge will contain more than 55,000 feet of steel pile and 2,100 feet of drilled shafts (72 inches in diameter).


American Bridge Company of Coraopolis, Pa., is the prime contractor on the approximately $65 million project. It is scheduled to be complete in December 2019. Debbie Tanking’s road squad and Mark Hurt’s bridge squad designed the project. 
To see all the projects in the November letting, click here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

#KDOTTUESDAYS: New chemical storage building in Concordia

The new chemical storage building in Concordia features two bay doors on either side. 

Pictured above is the new chemical storage building at the Concordia Subarea office.

This isn’t the first chemical storage building in the State, but it is the largest and the first to have two bays with doors on either side.  This design came from the minds of James Roudybush, District Two Maintenance Engineer and Robert Fuller, Staff Engineer in the Bureau of Maintenance.  Most subareas around the State have a salt dome and one smaller chemical storage building.


When operational, this design will allow trucks to load from either side eliminating the need to scrape out old salt, sand, and other supplies from the back.  It will also allow different materials to be stored in the same bay.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Don’t be a Grinch by being a “pedtextrian"


The hustle and bustle of the holidays are upon us and visiting shopping centers, attending parties, discussing holiday gifts with loved ones and even online shopping are a huge part of the season. During this festive time of year, we need to remember one thing – stay alert while traveling.

Whether you text or drive, or text and walk at the same time, both activities are dangerous. The National Safety Council said that distracted walking incidents are on the rise and everyone with a cell phone is at risk of serious injury if they don’t pay attention while walking.

In 2016, 5,987 pedestrians were killed in the United States.  A contributing factor for this rise in fatalities is not paying attention to our surroundings. This is putting our safety, and the safety of others, at risk.

The solution is simple: Stop using phones while walking, even if you aren’t at a crosswalk or intersection. Distracted walking incidents can happen virtually anywhere, even in our own homes or familiar places.

An added hazard to texting while walking is sidewalks that are covered in ice.
Both the NSC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have some great tips to help walk safer and smarter:
  • Don’t use your phone or smart device while walking.  If you aren’t paying attention, you may as well be walking blindfolded.
  • Pay attention to vehicles: look left, then right, and then left again. Vehicles can travel large distances in a short timeframe. Never assume that you can beat a moving automobile.
  • Be bright. Wear light colored clothing.
  • Don’t wear headphones while walking. Like texting and walking, when we wear headphones we are sacrificing a crucial sense: our hearing.  The ability to hear an approaching vehicle can be an important warning sign that traffic is coming toward you.
  • Never rely on a driver to stop, make sure they can see you. A great way to do this is to make eye contact with them. If you aren’t sure they have spotted you, don’t cross until it is safe.
  • If your vision is blocked by another car or object, move to a safer location before crossing.
  • Use crosswalks.
  • Walk in groups.
  • Never allow children younger than 10 to cross the street alone.

The holidays can be a wonderful time of year for many, and although our minds may be filled with presents, holiday treats, family and candy canes; if we use these tips the holidays could be jollier for everyone.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

#ThrowbackThursday: How roads were built in 1953

Crews work on U.S. 50 outside of Strong City in 1953. 

It’s #ThrowbackThursday and in today’s blog we are going back 64 years ago to 1953.

Larry Thompson, KDOT’s Director of Operations said in this picture crews are constructing concrete pavement by placing the concrete in steel forms and using a site mixer at the paver to deliver the batches of concrete.

“This method would have required a lot of hand labor to prepare the subgrade, set forms before paving and then remove the forms and reset the forms for the next placement,” Thompson said.

We’ve come a long way since 1953, and thanks to the development of automatic machinery, crews can now “auto” trim the subgrade material and place the concrete with a slip form paver. Concrete is now delivered to the pavers by dump truck as well.

“This paver eliminated the need to set and remove forms, thus reducing the labor and increasing the speed of the operation,” Thompson said. “Grade control is now off a string line that guides the automatic equipment through each phase and helps to create a smooth driving surface and uniform thickness for strength.”

The development of larger machines has also aided in the way roads are built. Many of the machines are now controlled by electronic sensors that speed the process along, while at the same time providing uniformity and increased production. This allows the contractor to provide a quality project in less time and at a cheaper cost.


Remember when you are driving in work zones to slow down and stay alert. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Cranksgiving collects food for those in need

Earlier this month more than 20 bicyclists gathered to participate in Topeka's Cranksgiving event. 
Courtesy photo: Bike Topeka

The majority of holiday books, songs and movies have one message: It is better to give than to receive. Donating food to those in need is a great way to spread goodwill to others, especially during the holiday season.

That is just what happened recently in Kansas’ capital city. Last week in Topeka, more than 20 bicyclists of all ages took to the streets to spread holiday cheer. The cyclists collected more than 500 pounds of food during the city’s 5th Annual Cranksgiving.

More than 500 pounds of food was gathered during the
Cranksgiving event. Co
urtesy photo: Bike Topeka
 
Karl Fundenberger, an Cranksgiving event organizer for Topeka, said that the event is designed to be a Thanksgiving food drive powered by bicycles.

“It happens in communities all over the U.S.,” Fundenberger said. “All food was donated to the pantry at the Center for Safety and Empowerment at the YWCA of Northeast Kansas.”

Fundenberger said that the event is a perfect combination of recreation and transportation.

“It requires navigational skills, cargo-carrying skills, and quick thinking – and it shows riders how capable they are on just two wheels,”
Fundenberger said. “It also demonstrates to the community how effective bikes can be for transport of people and cargo and how important it is to provide bicycle facilities as a part of the transportation network.”

Andy Fry, another event organizer, said that Cranksgiving has another reason for existing.

“For participants, Cranksgiving also helps identify challenges in a population’s ability to find food in a human-powered perimeter and food desserts or a lack of food distribution points or resources in a community,” Fry said.

Fundenberger said that riders had 90 minutes to collect food items from eight different categories. To visit more stores, participants were only allowed to pick up two items per location. If they hoped to complete the list and win, they would need to visit four different stores.

A group ride and shopping trip, dubbed, “The Haul” took place simultaneously to the Cranksgiving event. The group rode together to local grocery stores and to some nearby donors’ homes to pick up more items.

“Some of the riders and teams in the competition were sponsored by friends and family, and The Haul ride was totally sponsored by donors,” Fundenberger said.  “Beyond cash sponsorship for groceries, prize sponsorships came from PT’s Coffee, Jerry’s Bike Shop, Capp’s Bike Shop, Kaw Valley Bicycle Club, Hazel Hill Chocolate, and others.”

Want to get involved next year? Contact any of the host organizations or send an inquiry to info@biketopeka.com or like the Bike Topeka page on Facebook.

For more information on how you can participate in Cranksgiving in your community, check out www.cranksgiving.com  


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

#KDOTTUESDAYS: Ulysses seniors adopt a highway

Students from Ulysses High School partner with KDOT staff from southwest Kansas to keep their community and highways clean for their senior service learning project. 
While many high school seniors are focused on senior pictures, graduation announcements and deciding what their next steps will be after high school graduation, three Ulysses High School seniors are partnering with KDOT District Six staff to keep their community and highways clean as part of their senior service learning project.  When Connor Beims, Austen Everett, and David Vasquez had an interest in a project geared towards the outdoors, Senior English teacher, Jodi Pfingsten visited with them about the highways and KDOT’s Adopt a Highway program.  As part of the project, Connor, Austen, and David will be working with local organizations in Ulysses and Grant County to revive the Adopt a Highway Program by making organizations aware of the program and coordinating sign-ups and clean-ups in the Ulysses/Grant County area.  They will be contacting all organizations that have signed up for a route in District Six to update contact information, to determine when the last clean-up was, and to confirm the organization’s interest in participating in KDOTs Adopt a Highway program.  According to Pfingsten, all students at Ulysses High School are required to complete five hours of community service each year.  During the students’ junior year Pfingsten likes to have the students perform their five hours of community service in one area in the community so the students begin to build relationships.  As seniors, the service project must incorporate an outside agency and contain a project management variable which teaches students to take a big project and break it down into smaller short-term goals with varying responsibilities.  This helps students develop communication skills and learn how relationships work. 

According to Joe Finley, KDOTs District Six Maintenance Engineer, many of the Adopt A Highway organizations signed up a number of years ago and haven’t reported any clean-ups or been contacted in the last several years.  “We are excited to have help with this program in Southwest Kansas and especially interested in having this group of young men show an interest in the program.  We are anxious to get their input on how we can revive the program and make it more appealing to younger generations today”.

For more information on how you can get involved, check out our blog form earlier this year:
http://kansastransportation.blogspot.com/2017/04/adopt-highway-keep-kansas-clean.html

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Arrive alive: Make the choice to drive responsibly


The turkey is cooking, the various dishes and desserts are set out on the table and awaiting the feast, which means it is Thanksgiving! Laughter from family and friends can be heard in millions of homes across America on this particular day. 


It’s one of the most anticipated holidays of the year, and for many, Thanksgiving is a time for celebration. But before anyone can gather around the table for food or fun, we all need to do one basic thing: arrive alive.  
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the day before Thanksgiving, or “Thanksgiving Eve,” has statistically become one of the deadliest days of the year on the roads. 
In the past five years, more than 800 people have been killed in drunk driving crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday period. In 2016, one-third of all traffic fatalities during this time involved crashes related to drunk driving.

One crash related to drunk driving is too many. This year, make the choice to find another way to your destination:
  • Call a friend or loved one to pick you up.
  • Let someone else drive you home, use a rideshare program or call a taxi.
  • Take advantage of public transportation.
  • Wait until you are completely sober before getting behind the wheel. It is better to be safe than sorry. 

A grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation will pay for the extra overtime for law enforcement across the state of Kansas this week. Officers will be on the lookout for drivers who are operating a vehicle while under the influence. This year, buckle up, obey the speed limit and drive responsibly. You and your family will be thankful you did.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

#KDOTTUESDAYS: Section of U.S. 75 dedicated to fallen hero Eldon K. Miller

KHP Master Trooper Ryan Mosher and his brother Sergeant Darren Mosher of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, unveil a sign dedicating a section of U.S. 75 to their great uncle, Eldon K. Miller who also served as a KHP Officer. 

A major manhunt took place in Overland Park the afternoon of January 19, 1968. The search was on for two suspects who had robbed $13,000 from the Metcalf State Bank, shooting and wounding a local motorcycle officer during their getaway.

The abandoned getaway vehicle was located near an apartment complex in the 8400 block of Newton. Officers formed a perimeter and searched each apartment. As officers entered one of the apartments, shots were fired. Stationed outside, Sergeant Eldon Miller of the Kansas Highway Patrol jumped into a nearby Johnson County Sheriff’s car and began driving to the apartment windows to provide cover for officers pinned down by the shooting. As Miller was moving the car, gunfire erupted from the windows. The bullets struck and immediately killed him.

Sgt. Miller was 48 years old. He served in the United State Air Army Corps from 1942-45, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. Miller had been with the KHP for over 15 years. He was the first member of the Patrol to be killed by gunfire.

Family, friends and citizens gathered Nov. 1 at Yates Center for a sign unveiling ceremony to designate a section of U.S. 75 as the Eldon K. Miller Memorial Highway.

Family, friends and citizens gathered Nov. 1 at Yates Center for a sign unveiling ceremony to designate a section of U.S. 75 as the Eldon K. Miller Memorial Highway. The words of family members and officials recalling Miller’s commitment, enthusiasm and bravery warmed the chilly setting on the courthouse lawn.


According to Colonel Mark Bruce of the KHP, Miller’s family worked tirelessly with legislators to designate the highway. The Eldon K. Miller Memorial Highway is part of the U.S. 75 corridor. It starts at the north city limits of Yates Center, his hometown, and continues north to the Woodson-Coffey county line.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Turkey Day Travel Tips


Family, friends and food are great reasons for anyone to take to the road during the Thanksgiving holiday. Studies show that this is the busiest travel time of the year. In order to make it to the dinner table on time, make sure you are prepared by following these tips:

If your destination is far away, make sure that your vehicle is safe to drive. Have the vehicle’s fluids, windshield wipers and tires inspected prior to hitting the road.

Watch the skies. Bad weather can hit suddenly in parts of the country. Take caution when traveling in inclement weather.

Know where you are going before you leave.  Don’t rely solely on GPS.   Print out maps and directions, GPS service may become intermittent and having a backup is never a bad idea.

Make sure everyone is buckled in safely.

Keep your cell phone charged at all times in case of emergencies. If it is not being used for directions, make sure it is safely tucked away. Distracted driving can ruin your dinner plans.

Have an emergency kit handy. Make sure the contents include:
  • Battery powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Blankets for everyone in your car
  • Jumper cables
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks
  • Maps
  • Tire repair kit

Don’t drink and drive and know your limits. If you are tired, upset or ill it is not a good idea to drive. Take a break if needed.


Give yourself extra time to make it to your destination. More travelers on the road mean more traffic congestion. Be patient, the winter holidays are right around the corner and no one appreciates a Grinch.

For up-to-date road conditions check out kandrive.org

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Traffic Incident Manager saves countless lives through training of first responders

Rusty James, right, received recognition from ITS Heartland earlier this year for his dedicated work training thousands of emergency repsonders with the TIM program in the KC metro area. 

Traffic Incident Response Week, Nov. 13 – 19, was created to raise awareness of the dangers emergency responders are exposed to when they work at a traffic incident.

Rusty James, provides training to law enforcement officials,
emergency responders, and highway workers
Training emergency responders across the nation using the Federal Highway Administration’s Traffic Incident Management (TIM) program creates a coordinated response to clear traffic incidents efficiently with less risk to emergency responders, those involved in crashes and drivers that pass through an incident area.

As part of the Kansas City Scout traffic management center, TIM has been used in the KC metro area for many years. The manager of this effort until recently was Rusty James.
In May, Rusty was recognized by ITS Heartland, a five-state intelligent transportation systems organization, with its President’s Award in appreciation for his dedicated work training thousands of emergency responders.

There is no way to count the number of lives Rusty James saved over his many years of training law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, tow operators, DOT maintenance workers and other first responders. But there is no doubt the he is responsible for many people going home after an incident because of the training he provided. Thank you Rusty!


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wichita Metro area improves in incident response times


Part of Traffic Incident Response Week (Nov. 13 – 19) is looking at programs that are promoting a shared understanding of the requirements for quick incident clearance and best-practice safeguards for emergency responders and motorists.
In the Wichita metro area, over 1,000 emergency responders have received Traffic Incident Management (TIM) training. After an incident when two responders were struck by a vehicle at a scene in 2013, the entire Wichita Fire Department shared the program with their firefighters.

On Wichita’s highways, between 2013 and 2015, when TIM training began yielding results, traffic incident clearance times decreased by two hours. Average clearance times on highway incidents went from 150 minutes to just 34 minutes.

“TIM training showed emergency responders with different responsibilities why each  organization was doing what they were doing and how all of these roles could work together at a traffic scene,” said Kansas Highway Patrol Lieutenant Roger Baughman.

As a follow-up activity, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, EMTs, tow operators, 911 emergency communicators, WICHway traffic management center staff and other first responders meet bi-monthly to discuss recent traffic incidents, critiquing the clearance procedures and taking ideas for better scene clearance back to their organization.

Learn more about the national effort to reduce deaths and injuries to America’s emergency responders at www.respondersafety.com.

And visit the WICHway website (www.WICHway.org) to view Wichita’s highway cameras, message boards, traffic flow and road conditions during winter weather.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#MoveOverKS Encourages drivers to be cautious of road workers


Flashing lights, sirens, orange cones and neon vests should all tell you one thing: Move over and give emergency response crews, law enforcement and highway workers room to work.
The Federal Highway Administration has declared Nov. 13 to 19 Traffic Incident Response Week. During this week and throughout the entire year, KDOT would like to remind drivers that all road workers should be respected and protected. Whether they are emergency responders at a traffic emergency, KDOT or county workers performing maintenance on the roads or a law enforcement professional performing a traffic stop, these workers need space to do their jobs and stay safe.


KDOT has initiated a campaign called #MoveOverKS, which is designed remind drivers on all roadways to give roadside workers space to do their jobs and perform their service. In order to convey the message, images were taken of KDOT highway workers reminding everyone who sees them why they need all drivers to #moveover and give them space. The images are available across KDOT’s social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Steve Baalman, a KDOT Engineer in Topeka, said that the use of cell phones makes it noticeably scarier to work along highways.
“We too often see folks with their faces buried in their cell phones,” Baalman said. “Obviously with the texting, it’s very spooky for us.”

Baalman said that despite the risks, working along the highways is worth it. 


“I presume most folks are like me,” Baalman said. “We like the work, the service and the sense of accomplishment. It makes it worthwhile for those folks who are driving it every day.”

Kansas enacted the Move Over Law in 2006, requiring that drivers move over when approaching workers on the side of the road and if traffic doesn’t allow for that, to at least slow down. Follow the #MoveOverKS campaign and see why KDOT employees are asking you to move over.



Monday, November 13, 2017

Watch for responders at traffic incidents: lives depend on it

Every minute of every day, emergency responders across the country work to help save lives at the scene of traffic incidents. But every year hundreds of emergency responders representing fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, towing and transportation agencies are struck and either injured or killed while responding.
To raise awareness of the dangers these emergency responders are exposed to and to remind drivers of their obligation to use caution when approaching a traffic incident, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has declared Nov. 13 – 19 as Traffic Incident Response Week.
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a 7.2 percent increase in roadway fatalities over 2014. In 2016, another 6 percent jump was reported. Emergency responders work at each one of these scenes and unfortunately, are sometimes victims of secondary crashes caused by inattentive drivers.
KDOT, the Kansas Highway Patrol and partner agencies across Kansas remind drivers to move over for any emergency or maintenance vehicle with flashing lights.
The Kansas Move Over law requires drivers on four-lane roads or highways to move over when passing emergency vehicles. On two-lane roads, drivers should slow down and proceed with caution. 
To help emergency responders in Kansas, a FHWA Traffic Incident Management multi-disciplinary training course is presented to promote a shared understanding of the requirements for quick incident clearance and best-practice safeguards for responders and motorists. More than 3,000 emergency responders in Kansas have received the training.
Motorists are encouraged to always slow down, move over and give emergency responders room to work when approaching a traffic incident.

 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Honoring our armed forces: Union Pacific unveils patriotic locomotive

Union Pacific's locomotive 1943,  The Spirit, was unveiled at Fort Riley on Monday to honor each branch of the Armed Forces. 

The Kansas Department of Transportation recently partnered with Union Pacific Railroad and Fort Riley to honor the military.

Union Pacific has deviated from their standard bright yellow locomotive paint-scheme only a handful of times in their long history. Their most recent endeavor? The Spirit, or locomotive No. 1943, which was unveiled at Fort Riley. This locomotive was painted specifically to honor every branch of the Armed Forces.

“The first locomotive started rolling across Kansas in 1860, beginning now more than a century of partnership, reliability and prestige,” said Secretary of Transportation, Richard Carlson, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony. “This locomotive is a visual example of Union Pacific’s dedication to the military and to the people of Kansas.”

With 2,196 miles of track in Kansas, and a capital investment of over $75 million, as well as state and community support, Union Pacific remains an integral part of life in Kansas. Union Pacific operates a transcontinental corridor through the northeastern corner of the state and a north-south “couplet” of main lines from Kansas City to the Gulf Coast.

In addition to Secretary Carlson, Fort Riley’s Garrison Commander Colonel John Lawrence, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs for Union Pacific Liisa Stark, as well as Union Pacific’s Director of Public Affairs for Kansas and Missouri Lindsey Douglas spoke at the ceremony.

Locomotive No. 1943 will travel across Union Pacific’s tracks throughout the United States, proudly displaying support for the service-members who serve our nation.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

MAASTO Truck Parking Innovation takes center stage at ITS World Congress



The Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials (MAASTO), including representatives from the Kansas Department of Transportation, recently showcased truck parking innovation technology at the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress.

The Regional Truck Parking Information System (TPIMS), the largest project of its kind to ever be funded by a U.S. TIGER grant, was presented at the ITS World Congress in Montreal, Canada. The U.S. TIGER grant made it possible for MAASTO members to attend and present the innovative technology to the world.

“It is fitting that the Kansas Department of Transportation and our closest peers and partners are honored for developing trucking-related technology,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson. “Kansas’ top-ranked highway system and road miles, as well as our geographic and logistical advantages create an excellent opportunity for transportation innovation and synergy to unite.”

The presentation highlighted how member-states of the MAASTO joined together in creating an eight-state regional technology program for providing commercial freight truck drivers with real-time information that helps them more easily find safe, nearby parking as they reach the end of their regulated hours of service. The presentation will outline how the TPIMS technology will work and be used, along with how the project is progressing towards its early 2019 full deployment.


Presenters of the project included Project Manager Davonna Moore who serves as the Assistant Bureau Chief of Transportation for the Kansas Department of Transportation and Matt Junak of the HNTB consultant team supporting the project.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

KDOT’s Merrill Atwater Receives FAA Impact Award

Merrill Atwater received the 2017 Impact Award from the Federal Aviation Administration yesterday. Governor Sam Brownback presented the award.

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division Director, was presented with the 2017 Federal Aviation Administration Impact Award yesterday during a ceremony at the Kansas Statehouse.

The award recognizes the leadership and ingenuity that the recipient has shown in the promotion and support of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Atwater was selected by the FAA’s Regional Administrator Joseph N. Miniace.

“Merrill’s commitment to developing aviation in Kansas is as deep as his roots,” said Governor Sam Brownback. “There is no greater champion of aviation and innovation in the state, which is why it is suitable that this award is presented to Merrill Atwater.”

“Merrill Atwater is an incredible advocate for aviation in Kansas,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson. “From education to economic development, Merrill has the ability to see the vision of an aviation project or development and how it can impact the people around it. He is very deserving of this honor.”

Atwater has served as the Director of Aviation for KDOT since February 2016. In this role Atwater works with the FAA, collaborates with aviation stakeholders across the state and oversees KDOT aviation programs.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Eisenhower National Memorial project begins with groundbreaking ceremony

Members of the Eisenhower family, government officials and memorial committee members broke ground for the memorial at an event on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
America likes Ike and soon everyone who visits the Eisenhower National Memorial in Washington, D.C., will have a chance to learn about the accomplishments of Kansas’ favorite son, President Dwight D. Eisenhower. 

Members of the Eisenhower family, government officials and memorial committee members broke ground for the memorial at an event on Thursday in Washington, D.C. The new monument, designed by Frank Gehry, will celebrate Eisenhower’s success as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and his time as the 34th President of the United States. Sculptures by Sergey Eylanbekov will also be featured.

The memorial depicts Eisenhower at two points in his life. In the first sculpture, he is communicating with troops on D-Day just before the beach-landing in Normandy. The second celebrates his time as president. Tapestries made of steel cables will depict a peaceful Normandy beach, and several Eisenhower quotes will be featured as well.

Memorial visitors will also have the opportunity interact with the Eisenhower National Memorial through phone apps and a wireless technology guide.

Eisenhower’s great-grandson and KDOT’s Aviation Director Merrill Atwater said that the groundbreaking ceremony was an amazing event.

“Kansas will be represented in Washington, D.C.,” Atwater said. “And that’s pretty exceptional. The memorial is a whole square on the Mall.”

There are only five monuments in Washington D.C. that are named after presidents. Now, Eisenhower’s memorial will join them.

Senior Senator Pat Roberts is the chairman of the memorial board and was one of the speakers at Thursday’s event. He said he had the opportunity to meet President Eisenhower at his inauguration. When he shook Eisenhower’s hand, he never dreamed that he would lead the efforts for his memorial at the National Mall decades later.

“After all these years, why do we still ‘Like Ike?’” Roberts said.  “If he had done nothing else in life—his service as Supreme Allied Commander and savior of Western democracy should earn him the respect and admiration of every human being whose life, peace and prosperity that victory made possible.”

Roberts said that Eisenhower shouldn’t be revered because of his service alone, but honored because he served with quiet humility and strength.

 “The man was so humble that upon the surrender of the German Army his message back to Washington was simply, ‘Mission accomplished’,” Roberts said.

Roberts said that over the course of President Eisenhower’s career, America matured politically and culturally. By the time he retired, America was the leader of the free world.

“It has taken a long time for the historians to discover and figure out his greatness,” Roberts said. “Eisenhower anticipated the problems and averted them before they ever became a crisis. His steady hand and his quiet strategy didn’t draw attention like the administrations that followed him. Now six decades later, for that kind of leadership, he is remembered as one of America’s great presidents. Like Lincoln, he came from very humble origins. He never forgot his home-town and said, ‘The proudest thing I can claim is that I’m from Abilene.’”

Roberts said that Ike’s values - strength, humility, discipline and integrity - were also America’s.

“We couldn’t be where we are today without those values,” Roberts said. “We are here today to ensure Ike’s place in American and world history, for his achievements both as Supreme Allied Commander and the 34th president of the United States.”

Gretta Van Susteren, a former news commentator, was the emcee at the event. She said that those who were present came to remember a remarkable man who left a legacy for our great country. She said that Eisenhower embodied the values Midwesterners prize: determination and tenacity.

“When faced with a challenge he stayed focused,” Van Susteren said. “When faced with adversity he didn’t stop. He never gave in.”

Roberts also said that this memorial is being built not only to honor a single person, but to create a symbol for all generations.

“Lest anyone forget what we can achieve in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, let them come here and understand what Eisenhower and America have done, and what they in turn can do for themselves and our nation’s future,” Roberts said.


The Eisenhower National Memorial is expected to open on May 8, 2020. The cost of the project is approximately $150 million and will be primarily federally funded with some private donations. 

You can learn more about the memorial by checking out the website. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Greensburg to break ground on new airport

This aerial view map shows where the new Greensburg airport will be located (along the red line).
Grounbreaking of this new project will commence tomorrow. 
The City of Greensburg will break ground on its new airport during a ceremony tomorrow at 11 a.m. The Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Division’s Airport Improvement grants helped make the new airport possible.

“It is wonderful to see this kind of new growth coming to the Greensburg area,” said Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer. “We as a state are excited for the people and businesses of Greensburg.  A new airport has the potential for bringing further economic growth to the southwest region of Kansas, which is a benefit to all.  Congratulations to everyone involved in the project.”

“KDOT is pleased to have been part of such a profound project in the transformation of an excellent Kansas community,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson. “It is necessary that the state and our local communities continue to invest in the development of infrastructure that can aid in growth and progress.”
Current plans for Greensburg's new airport,
this design was completed by H.W. Lochner.

Planning for this project first started in 2011 with a KDOT Aviation grant used for the preparation of an Airport Development Plan. The plan helped with various aspects of the airport’s development. The Airport Development Plan project included coordination with federal, state, and local agencies to assure compliance with environmental and permitting requirements for the proposed improvements.

In 2012, KDOT Aviation issued a grant to the City of Greensburg for assistance in burying power lines necessary for airport site construction. In 2013, another KDOT Aviation grant was offered to the city for funding assistance related to the design of the new airport. Design of the new facility was completed by H.W. Lochner.

“The tragedies that happened to the Greensburg community are unforgettable,” said Kansas Department of Transportation Aviation Division Director Merrill Atwater. “Establishing a new airport will allow for the growth and development of the local economy, increased agricultural support and will support the capability of an air ambulance. This airport is invaluable to the future of this community.”

The project will consist of completing the grading required for the construction of a turf runway, runway turnarounds, aircraft parking apron/connecting taxiway and automobile parking lot.

RJA Dozer Service, LLC of Minneola is the prime contractor on the $737,222 project. Construction for Greensburg’s new airport is scheduled to start in November. Construction is expected to take approximately three months.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Floberg to lead new division at KDOT

Mike Floberg has been selected to lead the newly-created Division of Innovative Technologies for the Kansas Department of Transportation.

“In this position, I’m going to help lead the agency and the state into the future – working to bring in innovative technologies that relate to transportation as well as management and data,” Floberg said. “We’re also looking at ways to bring businesses and upstarts of new technology to expand the systems in Kansas.”

The technologies could include autonomous vehicles, roadside data collection, telecommunications and other coordination systems.


Floberg has worked at KDOT since 1988. He spent 11 years in bridge design and inspection, eight years in the Intelligent Transportation System unit and one year as the Topeka Metro Engineer. He has served as the Transportation Safety and Technology Bureau Chief since 2008. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

#IAMKDOT: Larry Kjellberg



This month’s #IAMKDOT is Larry Kjellberg, a Highway Maintenance Supervisor for the Ness City Subarea. 

Kjellberg began his career at KDOT as a temporary employee during the summer of 1980.  He returned to KDOT in as an Equipment Operator I in 1981.  He was promoted to Equipment Operator II in September 1985, Equipment Operator Senior in 2003, Equipment Operator Specialist in 2010 and was promoted to Highway Maintenance Supervisor for the Ness City Subarea last year. 

With more than 35 years of experience, Kjellberg has many memorable moments with KDOT, but says his favorite part of the job is the winter snow plow season because that’s when he really gets to help people – and help he has. 

He’s helped stranded motorists change tires and located and returned a lost cell phone.  He’s helped in several life-saving efforts to transport patients to hospitals during blizzards. Kjellberg earned a KDOT Orange Hero award for his efforts.

When a patient from the Tribune/Leoti area needed to be transferred to Hays, Kjellberg met the ambulance at the county line and plowed the way for them to the Rush County line where the next snow plow driver waited to escort the ambulance on to Ellis County.  Not too long after, Kjellberg got the call again.  The Ness City hospital needed help transferring a patient to Hays during a snow storm.  Kjellberg met the ambulance again and led the way to the Rush County Line where the LaCrosse team took over.

Kjellberg and his wife Wendi have four kids, Amber (Dighton), Becca (Kinsley) Chelsey (Dighton) and Lucas (Ness City) and five grandkids.  When not at work, Kjellberg enjoys spending time with his children and grandkids, but especially enjoys fishing with his grandkids, and hunting and trapping with his son, Lucas.  Those close to him would say that he is a trustworthy, honest and sincere role model.