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

And visit the WICHway website ( 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.