Monday, March 27, 2017

Dedication ceremony for road improvement in Lyons

A dedication ceremony was held on Friday to celebrate the completion of an economic development project in Lyons. 
The City of Lyons had a lot to celebrate on Friday during a dedication ceremony of the completion of an economic development project.

The KSTW Ltd. Mahindra tractor distribution center now has the opportunity to grow and create additional jobs in the community thanks to the partnership between KDOT, the city of Lyons and KSTW Ltd.

This important economic development project converted 17th Road, commonly known as Foundry Road, from gravel to a more efficient concrete surface.   The improvements allow for safer access for truck traffic entering and exiting the distribution facility which allows the company to increase in location size and allow for additional employees.

KDOT provided funds for the design and construction, which cost $500,000. KSTW Ltd. and the City of Lyons were able to fund the remaining construction engineering costs which brought the total dollar amount of the project to $562,000.

Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson had the opportunity to meet with those who celebrated the new opportunities the concrete surface creates.

“This was a great example of cooperation between the public and private sectors the benefit of everyone, and KDOT was proud to be a part of this joint effort between the state, the city and the company.” Carlson said.

Mike Young, the Mayor of Lyons, credited KDOT as a vital contributor to this project.

“I would like to express an immense appreciation towards KDOT for the support and guidance of this project,” Young said. “Without KDOT this project would not have been possible. KDOT has and continues to be a major part of the success of our community.”

This project was let on October 21 of last year and was completed earlier this month. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy National Puppy Day! Here are some safe travel tips for you and your furry friend


Today is National Puppy Day and what better way to celebrate than to take your canine companion on a C-A-R   R-I-D-E to some of his favorite places.

Some pet parents really enjoy traveling with their furry family members. According to a AAA/Kurgo Pet Passenger Safety Study, around 56 percent of all Americans travel with their pups at least once a month.

Whether you are heading down the street, the dog park or even out to a dog-friendly business, there are some “pawesome” ways that you can ensure that you and your best friend enjoy your time together and arrive safely.

Avoid doggy distractions, and leave the front seat for your human family members. Distracted driving can be caused by more than cellphone use and changing the radio station. Allowing your pup to ride on your lap can result in a number of dangers. Your dog could get stuck in the steering wheel while you are driving, or jump down and block the brake and acceleration pedals.  Even the “cute factor” of seeing your dog enjoy the ride is enough of a distraction to keep him delegated to the back seat. Your dog will still be just as cute and happy at your destination. 


Dogs belong inside the vehicle. As much as we believe that our dogs love to hang out of car windows and feel the wind on their faces, we are exposing them to a number of risks. Pollution from the cars around you can make your dog ill and dust and debris could be kicked up into their nose, ears and eyes. A passing vehicle could also clip them and turn what could have been an enjoyable car ride into a tragic nightmare. Keeping your windows rolled up prevents injury and even escape, which brings us to our next tip.



Restrain or secure your pup.  There are several ways you can do this. Some pet supply stores offer harnesses and doggy seat belts that will help your pooch stay in the back seat. There is a difference from a restraint and a secure harness.

A restraint will simply keep the dog in the back seat. It will provide the dog with enough movement to lay down comfortably.  However, in the event of a car crash, this will not keep your dog as safe as a secured harness would. Some dogs may not tolerate that level of restriction so training may be required.


Dogs shouldn’t be left alone inside cars. Just as with human children, leaving your dog unattended in an enclosed car is life-threatening. On warm days it doesn’t take long before a car can reach a deadly level of heat inside the vehicle, even when the windows are cracked. Leaving your pet alone can also attract pet thieves. If you can’t bring your dog with you, have someone wait in the car or simply leave them at home. They will be safer and happier.



Always have your dog’s collar, ID tag and leash with you when you travel. This will keep your dog with you, and help bring them home if they get lost.

Doggy car activities will help keep your dog occupied while you travel. Some good items could be your dog’s favorite type of chewing treat, a dog-puzzle toy or even a brand new.

Extra food and water are essential to traveling. If you are going out of town with your dog, be prepared for an extra day or two’s worth of food and ensure that your pet stays hydrated. Traveling can be stressful, and your dog will need plenty of water—and stops to stay healthy.




Visit the vet before you travel long-distance. Make sure your dog is healthy enough to travel before you leave. Your vet may also have some medical suggestions that can help your dog stay comfortable on your journey. Use this time to get a copy of your dog’s vaccination records in case you want to take your dog somewhere that may require it such a pet festival or to the groomers.



Wherever you choose to take your dog, remember to consider its safety. Dogs love unconditionally and will be happy because they are with you. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Common Courtesy Day: Reminders for the road


Does this scene sound familiar?

It’s rush hour. The stop and go traffic is exhausting and you may feel your blood begin to boil when an impatient driver cuts you off.  Your first reaction may be to lay on the horn angrily and yell at the driver in front of you.

Road rage is a very real behavior that has a way of snowballing out of control. Today is National Common Courtesy Day, and KDOT would like to provide you with some tips that will help you share the road with others. Hopefully, these tips will allow you to take moment and breathe when stressful situations occur

Don’t tailgate: While driving, it is easy to grow impatient and provide “hints” to drivers in front of us that they are going too slow. Don’t bully them into going faster.  If they have to brake suddenly, you could crash into them. Try to follow the three-second rule. Pick an object on the road, such as a post or a sign. When the car in front of you passes that object start counting, if you reach that object before you count to three, you are following too close.
  
Use your turn signal: In any relationship, communication is important. When you are on the road you are sharing your time and space with others, even if it’s only for a few seconds. It is important to indicate your intentions. Will you be turning at the next street? Do you need to exit? Your turn signal is a valuable communication device and will help other drivers know what you plan to do next.

Let others merge:   Small, kind gestures can make a world of difference in the lives of the people around you. Sometimes that can be as easy as acknowledging that someone needs to merge into your lane and allowing them time and space to do so safely. This could help you avoid a car crash.

Be patient/Don’t be a hazard: Driving isn’t a video game. Weaving in and out of traffic is unsafe. Try to go with the flow of traffic and follow the speed limit. Likewise, try to keep up with the speed limit so you don’t become a roadblock for other drivers.

Don’t blind other drivers:  When traveling at night it is always important to use your headlights. Sometimes the situation does require you to use your high beams to see farther away. But when you see another driver approaching you should switch them to your normal setting to avoid temporarily blinding them. They’ll appreciate you for it.

Provide space and time for bikers and pedestrians:  Pedestrians who use crosswalks need time to get across the street safely.  Be aware of their position and don’t move forward until they are safely out of your vehicle’s range of movement.

Focus on driving: Distracted driving can put you and others at risk. Put the phone away, have your music selected before you drive and remember that your car is not a dressing room. 

Many of these tips are common sense but in our busy, fast-paced world it is easy to be focused on what we need instead of the needs of others.


Today and every day, as you drive, keep in mind that those who you share the road with could be dealing with a lot of stress and simply being a courteous driver could help them more than you know.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kansas couple accomplishes aerial feat



There are 137 public-use airports in Kansas and Kent and Cindy Stone decided to visit all of them.

On Friday, March 10, as their plane landed at the Philip Billard Municipal Airport in Topeka, they accomplished their goal with a total of 12 days of flying under their wings.   


Cindy and Kent Stone were honored with a certificate of merit from Kansas Department of Transportation Division of Aviation for visiting all 137 public-use airports


The couple began their flight in December and according to their Facebook page, they had visited all 52 airports in Western Kansas in just four days.

“Boredom got us going,” Kent said. He and his wife kept flying their renovated Beechcraft E33 Bonanza to the rest of the public-use airports in Kansas.

Although the couple took a break for a few weeks, they started up again early last month. Their arrival in Topeka ended their saga and earned them a certificate of merit from the KDOT Division of Aviation and the compliments of Aviation Director Merrill Atwater. 


“Kent and Cindy show how passion fuels aviation,” Atwater said. “They exemplify for anyone that aviation has something for everyone.”
Kent Stone (middle) shows off his well-earned certificate with representatives of  KDOT Division of Aviation: Dennis O'Connor (right) and Lindsey Dreiling. (left) 


After visiting 137 airports, the Stones said they still found something new each time they landed.

“Every airport has a story to tell or an experience to be enjoyed,” Kent said.
                                     
Their endeavor may have had a turbulent start over thirty years ago when the couple bought their Beechcraft E33 Bonanza.

“There was a long interval of engine troubles after buying the plane in 1986,” Kent said. “It kept cutting in and out after (doing) virtually everything to fix it. I had three choices: Hanger it, sell it, or start over and restore it.” 


It would appear that they made the correct choice.
No automatic alt text available.
This image from Kent and Cindy's Facebook page shows all 137 airports they visited. 

For more information on their journey check out their Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/flykansas138/

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Don't press your luck! This St. Patrick's Day, plan before you party



St. Patrick ’s Day is widely celebrated across the country and can be really fun. But that fun brings a dangerous side effect: Drunk driving. On this holiday, more drunk drivers are likely to drive on roadways.

In fact, the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period from 2011-2015 saw the loss of 252 lives due to drunk-driving crashes according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2015, 30 people were killed in drunk driving crashes over this holiday period.

After consuming alcohol there is no such thing as being, “OK to drive.” Just one or two beverages can impair your judgement and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk—or worse. Nothing is worth putting your own and other lives at risk by drinking and driving.

Planning ahead is the key to staying safe after you’ve been drinking. Before the party begins, make a plan for how to get home safely. 

Most drivers aren’t leprechauns and don’t have a pot of gold on hand to pay for a DUI. The average DUI can cost $10,000. You’ll save more money if you use public transportation, or get a ride home from a friend.

The decision is up to you, whether you drink or you drive - but you can’t do both. Help those around you be responsible party goers as well. Walking while intoxicated can also bring bad luck as lack of attention and coordination puts you at risk of getting struck by a vehicle. If you know someone who has been drinking, take away their keys and help them find a safe ride home.


During this holiday, remember that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

KDOT crews assisted firefighting efforts

More than a week has passed since the record-breaking wildfires burned over 1,000 square miles of the state. The flames, which were fueled by an abundance of grass, low humidity and strong winds, devastated lives and left some parts of Kansas looking like a barren wasteland.  Governor Sam Brownback has made a disaster declaration for 20 counties in Kansas.

One person was killed and 11 were injured as a result of these fires. The blazes destroyed at least 40 homes and countless livestock.
Last Monday, when the wildfires appeared to be the most numerous, 21 counties were reporting some form of fire event.

KDOT crews in several areas answered the call to assist the firefighters who stood on the front lines against these out-of-control flames.

In Northwest Kansas, Josh Hudson, the Supervisor at the Stockton Sub-Area, worked with his crew to help control traffic on Monday and Tuesday in Rooks County.  They were also able to help fight the flames along U.S. 183 south of Stockton.

U.S. 183 south of Stockton was among the many places affected by the wildfires in Kansas last week. 


KDOT crews were able to assist Firefighters in Rooks county. 

“Senior Equipment Operator, Chad Boyle and I worked with the fire departments and assisted on the fire trucks fighting the fire,” Hudson said. “It was a very long day."

“We had the loader and motor grader south of town making fire breaks to stop the fire from going any farther,” Hudson said.  “We had a truck with water being used.”

The large flames and smoky conditions proved to be a challenge for everyone involved.

Smoky conditions limited visibility and made fighting the flames difficult.

“The smoke made it impossible to see anything on U.S. 183 between town and the top of the hill south of Stockton,” Hudson said.  “There were flames taller than the motor grader burning the right of way.”

On Wednesday, the National Guard out of Salina provided 26 air drops with 660 gallons of water per drop to extinguish areas that they were not able to reach.

The Kansas National Guard out of Salina provided relief with 26 air drops to help extinguish the flames. 


“It was nice to see all the communities and government agencies work together to get this fire under control,” Hudson said.

Farther south, Clark County was hit hardest by the fires, with more than 500,000 acres of land devastated by the flames. One of the state’s smallest communities, Englewood, was severely affected, with at least 12 homes destroyed. 

A damaged sign rests on the charred ground in Clark County. 

Area Superintendent Galen Ludlow said that KDOT crews in the area mostly assisted with traffic control and closing routes where the smoke and fire burned the roadways.

“I was in contact with all my personnel in Ness, Hodgeman, Ford, Clark and Gray counties to get the crews in position to detour traffic,” Ludlow said. “We had to close the highways at the state line going both ways, so I was in contact with Oklahoma to stop traffic going into Oklahoma and vice versa coming into Kansas.”

The flames that destroyed more than 500,000 acres of land in Clark County also affected Kansas roads. Note the coloration change of this highway where the heat from the flames burned the asphalt. 

Ludlow said this was the first time he had ever been involved with a fire of that size and scale. 

“We started with the fire here in Dodge City at approximately 1 p.m.,” Ludlow said. “We received a call from the KHP and Ford County communications that they were requiring traffic assistance. It was a pretty big fire that was burning around the four-way stop at the U.S. 283 and U.S. 56/400 Junction on the south end of Dodge City.”

Ludlow said that the fire in Clark County had caused a great deal of damage to a lot of KDOT’s inventory such as signs and guardrails.

“620 of our guardrail systems were burned in Clark County,” Ludlow said. 

One of many damaged guardrail systems in Clark County. 

One of many damaged guardrail systems in Clark County. 

Ludlow said that it could take several months to clean up and rebuild.

“For us it will entail going out and replacing what was burned,” Ludlow said. “The locals will have lots of cleanup from buildings that have burned up. We are still in the process of deciding how we are going to handle the guardrail situation. It’s such a large scale that it could take an estimated several months to complete.”


Another damaged highway sign after it was burned by the flames. 

Zach Oswald, the Public Affairs Manager in Southcentral Kansas said that KDOT also assisted with traffic during the Reno County fires last week.

“KDOT crews were actively involved in flagging and redirecting traffic along alternative routes,” Oswald said.

“As of Friday, the burned area along K-61 extended along the west side from 56th Street to roughly Tobacco Road,” Oswald said. “The fire didn’t cross south of 56th Avenue.”

KDOT Right of Way burned from the Reno County wildfire. 

Oswald said that the closed section of K-61 was used as a fire block to prevent the fires from spreading east of K-61.


“The highway remained closed until the fires had been contained and was safe for public use.”

KDOT would like to thank all who risked their lives to help fight the fires that devastated parts of the state last week. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

U.S. 69 expansion project begins with groundbreaking celebration

Construction of the U.S. 69 expansion project was celebrated with a groundbreaking ceremony. 

U.S. 69 expansion project begins with groundbreaking celebration          
KDOT celebrated the start of the U.S. 69 expansion project with a groundbreaking ceremony earlier today in Bourbon County.

"We at KDOT are proud to be part of this important project and look forward to its successful completion." Transportation Secretary Richard Carlson said.
The $20.4 million T-WORKS construction project will expand a six-mile section of U.S. 69 to a four-lane upgradable expressway.  The project, which begins at the Crawford-Bourbon County line, extends north and ends at the divided four-lane pavement south of the city of Fort Scott.

Two lanes will be added to the existing highway, and at-grade intersections will be constructed at Arrowhead, Birch, Calvary, Deer and Fern roads.


The project is expected to reach completion by November 2018. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Transit Day at the Statehouse makes a stop at Kansas Capitol

A visitor stops by a booth which details transit routes in Kansas communities.  

KDOT and the Kansas Public Transit Association hosted Transit Day at the Statehouse in Topeka yesterday. The event, in its second year, highlighted the work that more than 150 different agencies from across the state do to provide reliable, clean and useful transit and paratransit services to the people of Kansas.


Attendees met with state’s service providers, toured new transit and paratransit vehicles and learned about new technologies being used. Secretary Richard Carlson, Rep. Richard Proehl, Sen. Jake LaTurner and Susan Duffy, Chair of the Kansas Public Transit Association, gave a briefing on public transportation in Kansas
during the event.
Visitors had the opportunity to stop and visit with different agencies that provide reliable, safe and useful transit services across the state. 

“Public transit is here for us all – rural, urban, young and old alike – but we don’t spend much time talking about it,” KDOT Public Transit Manager Mike Spadafore said. “We hope that Transit Day gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and learn about transit and paratransit services available in Kansas. Our goal is to keep people living in and connected to their communities as long as possible.”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#IAMKDOT: Kevin Jirak


This month’s #IAMKDOT feature is Kevin Jirak who has worked at KDOT for more than 31 years in Marion.  Jirak began his career as an Equipment Operator I and over the past three decades he has been promoted several times starting with Equipment Operator II, followed by the Area Crew Supervisor in 1993. Twenty four years later, Jirak now serves as Area Superintendent.  Among his many duties, Jirak oversees four Subarea crews and one Area crew.

“I have a group of good supervisors and employees that do a great job,” Jirak said. “My Area Engineer has been very helpful to me since becoming the Area Superintendent. This makes my job easier. I also take care of permits, visit and listen with the public about their concerns and keep an eye on maintenance issues.”

When Jirak is not at work he enjoys a variety of activities that include coaching kids in sports.  He also is an avid Jayhawks and Chiefs fan. Jirak spends time in the great outdoors as a hunter and fisherman. He enjoys spending time with his wife and four children.

#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 Mallory.Goeke@KS.gov today to get started! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trash duty leads to priceless treasure

Sometimes KDOT workers happen upon items that can brighten someone's day. 

As reported last week, crews across the state clean up messes along Kansas' highways. A news story recently published by KMBC News explains how KDOT employee Rodney Wright found an item that holds personal value. 


Find the story below and a link to the video after.

GARDNER, Kan. —
A Gardner woman believes a little divine intervention can explain how her lost Bible was returned to her after it was found off a highway.
"This is a beautiful mess," said Rhonda Thompson. "It’s amazing."
Thompson's Bible held a special place in her heart because it belonged to her husband, Mike. It served as the guestbook at his funeral.
Thompson carries the good book to church every weekend, putting it in the seat right next to her in the van until two weeks ago.
"I just set the drink and the Bible up there (on top of the van)," Thompson said. "I went around and drove off.”
Two days later, trash duty brought Kansas Department of Transportation worker Rodney Wright to the side of Highway 56.
"I noticed right away that it was a Bible," Wright said.
But what Wright didn't know at the time was that the Bible had a personal connection for him.
"I didn't put two and two together that it was my old friend Mike's Bible," Wright said.
One of those days at work dealing with trash became treasure for one of Mike's dearest friends.
“He was … he was there for me in a time of my life when I really needed somebody to hold onto," Wright said.
"Sometimes things that just do not make sense -– it doesn’t make any physics sense that a car hit it and it didn’t just blow all over the place. We’re right by the highway," Thompson said.
“But God is definitely the one that put me there to find it," Wright said.
It’s a story of amazing grace.

"Explain this stuff to me then, because this feels like Jesus Christ to me," Rhonda Thompson said. “No matter what, God just kept bringing it back together."
Check out the video here

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I-70 guard fence updates among list of approved February lettings

Guard fence along I-70 in Sherman County. 


Updating guard fence at 10 different locations along I-70 in Sherman County is one of the projects that was approved in KDOT’s February letting.

This work will take place roughly between milepost 12 and milepost 17. Projects have been completed east and west of this section in the last 20 years and guard fence was upgraded as a result. This project will improve guard fence on the remaining five-mile section.

The upgrade will involve constructing a concrete barrier wall to protect a bridge pier at one location as well as guard fence and grading at the other locations. Smoky Hill LLC of Salina is the contractor on the $554,000 project.


To see all of the 14 projects approved in February and four projects that were recently approved from the January letting, click here

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Litter bugs beware! KDOT crews exterminate trash along highways


It’s amazing what some people will throw away, especially out of vehicle windows while driving more than 65 miles an hour along Kansas highways.



KDOT crews across the state actually take the time to clean up the messes that litter bugs leave behind. KDOT addresses these messy situations to improve safety for the traveling public.

On average KDOT crews can pick up 2-4 tons worth of trash each week. An article posted on KDOT’s Northeast Kansas Facebook page explains that in the KC Metro area, crews pick up litter by hand as time allows.


Many of these tasks, especially litter pick up, are never ending,” the article said. “Effort may be made one day to pick up litter and the next day it may look as if it was never addressed. KDOT does not take our responsibilities lightly in providing a safe and efficient transportation system.

KDOT crews also still have to ensure that hazardous spills are cleaned up and it can require several agencies.

Wayne Nelson, Superintendent at the Pittsburg Area Office, said that last year a hospital waste disposal truck’s door fell open and about 20 big bags of medical waste were scattered along a five-mile area. KDOT, KDHE, Emergency Management, The Kansas Highway Patrol, the local sheriff and other agencies were all on the scene to clean up the mess.

“As Area Superintendent of Area Four, I refused to allow any agency on the list to leave the trash on our right of way for even one night,” Nelson said.  “There was a trailer court and residences all around the area, any dog could have taken the trash to a yard where kids were playing.”

Nelson said that on any given day, staff may find some dangerous items left along the state right-of-way.


“Drug dealers leave their hazardous waste for KDOT people to address, because if (these items) are found in a dumpster they may identify who is doing the dumping. Dangerous items requiring removal from state right of way may include needles, chemicals, fire hazards, and explosives."

Some areas in the state report that more drug paraphernalia is dumped on the side of the road after a drug lane check.

Hazardous waste aside, some KDOT crews find the strangest things along roadways. Unusual finds include money, laptops, cell phones, truck tires, guns, IDs, tools, knives and even entire motorcycles abandoned by their owners.



While KDOT crews do their best to clean up the litter, they cannot do it alone. Some areas in the state need your help to exterminate litter. KDOT’s ADOPT-A-Highway program is a great way to do your part to keep Kansas beautiful and take an active role in keeping your state clean!

Find more information about how you can get involved here!

And remember, litter belongs in a trashcan or recycle bin, not along roadsides.