Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Class is in session: Back-to-school safety part one

School is back in session for many this month. The inevitable return to classes means that an increase in safety is needed. We will be sharing a few blogs about back to school safety.

With the end of the dog days of summer, family vacations and summer camps are over and the beginning of another school year is upon us. More than 50 million children will soon be heading back to school. That means increased traffic and congestion as kids and parents hurry off to school every morning.  Being prepared and taking a few extra precautions as a driver can help improve safety. 
  • Ditch the distractions.  Children can be quick — whether it’s crossing the street, darting out to pick up something they’ve dropped or emerging from between parked cars.  Drivers need to focus on driving —shut off your cell phone, use the “do not disturb” feature on your mobile device or toss it in the back seat so you’re not tempted to check it. 
  • Slow down and allow extra time.
  • Seat belts save lives. Always remember to buckle up.

Share the road with young pedestrians.
  • Don't block the crosswalk.  This forces pedestrians to go around you and could put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • Always stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Watch for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
  • Watch for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks and in all residential areas.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

Share the road with teen drivers.
A new school year means newly-licensed teen drivers will be navigating traffic, drop off areas and parking lots, which can mean a potential for more incidents.  According to the National Safety Council, teen crashes spike in September and happen more commonly in the mornings and afternoons, when school begins and ends. Drivers need to keep these tips in mind:
  • When dropping off your kids at school, be on high alert for new teen drivers.
  • Keep in mind that new drivers may not have the skills that come from experience, such as gauging gaps in traffic, reading the general flow of traffic on roads and having situational awareness while driving in congested areas.
  • Give teen drivers the space they need as they learn to navigate traffic, drop-off/pick-up procedures and parking lots.

Know your school’s drop-off procedure
  • Be familiar with your school’s drop-off procedures and keep the following tips in mind:
  • Don't double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
  • Don't load or unload children across the street from the school.

Share the road with school buses

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are four to seven years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe around buses:

  • Never pass a bus if it is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

Share the road with bicyclists

Children on bikes may not be able to properly determine traffic conditions and safety.  Use care when sharing the road with bicyclists.  
  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave three feet between your car and the bicyclist.
  • When turning left with a bicyclist approaching from the opposite direction, wait for the bicyclist to pass.
  • If you're turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, then proceed with the turn.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge

Numerous buffalo can be seen at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.
In Battlehill township of McPherson County lies a piece of preserved natural prairie, comprised of rolling hills, creeks, springs and beautiful prairie grasses and wildflowers.
Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near Canton is home to one of the few surviving wild buffalo herds. It began in 1859, when a small herd of buffalo were driven into the area around the Maxwell homestead. The Maxwell family wanted to preserve a piece of prairie with a roaming herd of buffalo for future generations.
So in 1943, the Henry Maxwell estate donated 2,560 acres of land to what is now the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for the creation of the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, which is dedicated to bison and other species. This unique area, located six miles north of Canton, possesses one of the finest herds of buffalo in the United States, along with elk and other wild game. 
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism maintains herds of American plains bison and elk under as natural conditions as possible, keeping with the current land-use demands. This helps to ensure that an important part of our state’s natural heritage will not disappear from this portion of the Great Plains.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Let's get on the right track: Taking pictures on train tracks is dangerous and against the law

Taking photos on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. Photo courtesy: Operation Life Saver

Picture this (pun intended) — it’s time for you or your loved ones to get professional photos taken. Many people are tempted to have their photos with train tracks as a background setting. Who wouldn’t be? The symbolism of train tracks receding into the distance and the optical illusion that they create can represent so many exciting moments in life. Perhaps a wedding is on the horizon, or even a new member of the family will arrive soon or maybe a high school senior just wants to have something that represents their future.

Whatever the reason, it is important to understand that not only is it dangerous to take photos on train tracks, it is also illegal.

According to Operation Life Saver’s website, every three hours a person or vehicle is struck by a train. In 2014, 500 people lost their lives while trespassing on train tracks.  In Kansas this year, there have been approximately 90 crashes at railroad crossings.

According to Operation Life Saver, it can take the length of 18 football fields to stop a train. That means trains do not have the ability to stop quickly to avoid hitting people or vehicles.
As mentioned earlier, train tracks create an optical illusion. The perspective of the tracks receding into the distance can make it hard to tell exactly how far a train is away from you. It can be difficult to know how fast a train is really going.

It is also very unsafe to take photos near the train tracks. Trains hang over the tracks by at least three feet, and the force and speed they go by adds to the danger as well.

No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned, and many of them are considered private property by yards and rights of way — even if you don’t see a “No Tresspassing” sign.  
If you must have train tracks as part of your photography, reach out to local railroad museums and ask them if they would be willing to host a photo shoot. Some private railyards may have options as well, but may require permission before use. Remember, if you do take photos with permission to always acknowledge that fact if you share them online or with family. People like to mimic what looks cool, and they could put their lives in danger. See tracks, think train.

There are many ways you improve safety while taking photos. Other exciting photo opportunities exist out there if you know where to look. Here are a few ideas:

  • Well-shaded areas in parks: Playground equipment creates a nostalgic and whimsical setting and the photographer can create some really fun images with different angles and perspectives. If you find a park with a foot bridge, it can create a similar effect to train tracks. Some parks have flower gardens, which are great backdrop accessories.
  • Rustic buildings: Taking a photo against a brick wall inside may not be terribly exciting. But if you venture to an older part of town and find historical buildings with chipped stone, paint deterioration and even bricks, you may find that the added texture can create a fun element.
  • Staircases: Like railroad tracks, staircases can also represent change and new beginnings. Depending on the angle, you can achieve a cool perspective and illusion.
  • Museums: Some museums allow visitors to schedule photoshoots on their grounds. Call ahead and ask your favorite museum if that is an option.
  • The great outdoors: Be original! Explore the nooks and crannies of the world around you. 

For more information about Operation Life Saver and to find out how you can be safer around train tracks, visit www.OLI.org.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Relay for rescue: saving lives one mile at a time

Two dogs, Gracie and Cienna were heartworm positive and were transported from a shelter in Texas to a rescue in Colorado where they will receive care and be eligible for adoption. 

By Lisa Mussman
Northwest Kansas Public Affairs Manager 

It happens every week on the highways and byways across the country. Hundreds of volunteers working together giving shelter animals hope, one mile at a time.

What is this phenomenon? Volunteer animal rescue transport.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, approximately 6.5 million companion animals are surrendered to shelters annually. Even though adoption numbers are on the rise, nearly 1.5 million are euthanized each year. And, while there are many potential rescues and adopters willing to take in these at-risk animals, they often do not have the resources to transport them to safety whether it be across the state or across the country.

Simon and Garfunkel, two kittens that tested positive for
FeLV in North Carolina were transported to a shelter in
Colorado that specializes in treating cats living with this
This is where volunteer animal transporters step in. An online search for “volunteer animal rescue transport” brings up numerous groups available to help move animals from point A to point B. Transports aren’t limited to rescuers, anyone needing help moving an animal may submit a request to these groups.

Once the request has been submitted, a transport coordinator will develop a run sheet for the trip, breaking it down into legs that are usually one to one to 1 1/2 hours long on average. The run sheet is then emailed or posted on social media/online for volunteers to start signing up for legs, overnights or week-long stays depending on the length of the trip. Most transports take place on the weekends when drivers are more readily available. Transport coordinators will continue reaching out to volunteers until each leg is spoken for, sleepovers are secured and the run is filled.

Then the trip is on! Drivers ready their vehicles, laying down blankets and towels and packing leashes, toys, fresh water and treats to help their four-legged passengers feel more comfortable on their long trip. The first volunteer picks up the animal and the journey begins, sometimes with lots of singing and talking, and always with lots of love. The animals get a chance to stretch, have a drink of water and a potty break at each exchange. There are usually lots of pets, hugs, pictures and sometimes a few tears as they make their way down the road, a process that gets repeated over and over until they reach their final destinations.

Thanks to the work of these volunteer transporters, thousands of animals who may not have had a chance at a loving home are getting those chances. The sight of these animals beginning to relax and realize they are safe, their nudges, kisses, cuddles and silent “thank yous” to the drivers; these are what keep volunteer transports going.

For more information or to get involved with a volunteer transport group, search online or contact an animal rescue in your area.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

KDOT participates in Transportation Task Force initial session

KDOT Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson provides an update to the Transportation Task Force.

The Transportation Task Force met in Topeka yesterday to set goals, identify constraints and develop a process to gather local input as part of transitioning to a new transportation plan.

The task force is comprised of 31 voting members, including legislators, industry representatives and local officials. KDOT is one of four ex-officio (non-voting) members of the task force. The Kansas Turnpike Authority, The Kansas Department of Revenue and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are the others.

KDOT’s role Monday was to assist the committee as they met to understand the process of developing a long-term transportation program. 

“Our goals are to preserve the current system, complete T-Works and create a reliable and sustainable source of future funding,” said Transportation Secretary Richard Carlson.  “We are here to provide you the data you need and answer your questions.”

As the task force evaluated the progress of T-Works, they also looked at what in the T-Works process worked and what they believe may need to be different as the task force creates recommendations for the next generation of transportation planning.

The Transportation Task Force Co-Chairs Rep. Richard Proehl and Sen. Carolyn McGinn attend the initial Transportation Task Force session.  
Task force co-chairman Rep. Richard Proehl said the purpose of the task force is to connect a statewide vision for the future with regional visions and ensure transportation projects support overall goals.

“Transportation projects need to stand the test of time,” Proehl said.

Proehl said the task force will need to balance engineering data, economic development, emerging needs and funding sources.

“We need to ask ourselves if we have the right program structure for moving forward to meet the state’s transportation needs,” Proehl said.

During the KDOT update, Carlson reported the T-Works program to date did have several successes, including 12,871 lane miles of lane miles improved and 846 bridges improved.

Carlson said each year of T-Works, KDOT provided local agencies a total of $10 million in economic development funds, and it was his recommendation the future program double that investment amount.

“When we look at the strategic impact of those dollars, it’s significant,” Carlson said.

The Transportation Task Force initial meeting was widely attended. The task force will hold nine regional meetings across the state this fall.  

KDOT provided the task force a budget update and identified the fiscal realities of completing the remaining 21 projects on the T-Works list and catching up on preservation and addressing emerging local needs following three years of highway fund transfers.

“To complete the remaining projects on the T-works list,” said State Transportation Engineer Catherine Patrick, “we need about $500 million over five years.”

Patrick said the five-year process is due to projects being paused in various phases of the design process.  Many projects were paused before right-of-way purchases had been completed, and others still need design work before moving forward.

Patrick also said in order to catch up on preservation, KDOT needs $500 to $600 million per year to complete the preservation necessary to position KDOT to maintain the highway infrastructure to a level of service the driving public needs.

The task force is set to hold a total of nine regional meetings across the state from September through November.  After the regional meetings are held, the task force will reconvene to begin the process of creating recommendations to meet transportation needs in Kansas over the next 10 years or longer.

“It won’t be easy.” Proehl said, “But it will be worth it.”

Monday, August 6, 2018

Medicine Lodge Stockade Museum

The Medicine Lodge Stockade Museum is based on an 1874 stockade built to protect residents of
the time. Courtesy: Medicine Lodge Stockade Museum
The Medicine Lodge Stockade Museum is a collection of “anything and everything” — from woolly mammoth bones and human hair wreaths to buffalo heads and saddles from the Civil War to the present.

The museum — and the home of the hatchet-wielding temperance leader Carry Nation — is open 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. every day from November to May and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday from June to October. The museum is closed on major holidays.

A Carry Nation impersonator holds a hatchet,
the preferred tool the temperance leader used
to smash saloons. Courtesy: Medicine Lodge
Stockade Museum.
The Stockade Museum opened in 1961 and is based on a stockade built in 1874 in Medicine Lodge, which is the county seat of Barber County. The stockade is not an exact replica of the original but was constructed the same way. The museum is soliciting contributions for new logs on is website, www.medicinelodgestockade.org.  
The museum grounds feature a two-story log cabin built in the 1870s and an old jail cell that had been in the basement of the original courthouse.
The home of Carry Nation is included with admission, which is $3 for children 7 to 14, $5 for adults and $4 for people 55 and older. Admission is free for children younger than 7.
The home is the original site of where Nation — famous for smashing saloons —began her crusade. The home includes many of her furnishings.
“We do have some bottles that she missed,” joked Belinda Kimball of the museum.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

July letting paves the way for transit vehicles to utilize shoulder along I-35 in Wyandotte County

Transit vehicles have utilized the shoulders on I-35 in Johnson County since 2012. This service will now be expanded along I-35 into Wyandotte County as well.

A project to allow transit vehicles to utilize the shoulder along I-35 during times of congestion and continue the efforts of bus-on-shoulder operations in Wyandotte County is one of the projects approved as part of KDOT’s monthly construction letting for July.

In 2012, Johnson County Transit started operating on I-35 after legislation was passed in 2011 for the section in Johnson County only. Legislation passed last year allowing for it to be operational in Wyandotte County. Improvements along I-35 in Wyandotte County will be made as a part of this project, and completion of this project will now allow for usage of the shoulder on I-35 for the entire stretch from Johnson County to Wyandotte County.

The transit vehicles can operate on the shoulder at speeds of no more than 10mph above traffic flow and at a maximum of 35mph. The operation increases travel time reliability for the transit vehicles which can ultimately lead to increased usage of transit and serves as a congestion mitigation tool. In 2016 buses utilized the shoulder 2,053 times traveling more than 2,000 miles on the shoulder.

Gunter Construction Company of Kansas City is the contractor on the $119,058.15 project. To see all of the projects in KDOT’s July construction letting, click here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Creative contests encourage teens to Put the Brakes on Fatalities

Kansas kids can win great prizes and learn about traffic safety by participating in poster and video contests as part of the annual Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day safety campaign.

Poster contest: For Kansas kids ages 5 to 13 - three statewide winners will each receive:
sKindle Fire Tablet and case from the Kansas Turnpike Authority;
s$50 gift card from Wal Mart;
s$50 Amazon gift card from the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store
Association of Kansas;
sMovie passes from AAA Kansas.

A total of 18 regional winners in the six regions and age groups (ages 5-7, ages 8-10 and ages 11-13) will receive a bicycle from the KTA and a helmet from Safe Kids Kansas. Poster entries must be postmarked by Friday, Sept. 21. Information and entry forms are available here.

Video contest: For Kansas teens in grades 8-12. Prizes include an iPad, a Go Pro and a DJI Osmo camera, and the school of the grand prize winner will receive $500 for its school, class or booster club. Video entries must be posted by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30. Information to submit entries is available here

The Kansas Department of Transportation, the KTA,  the Kansas Highway Patrol and other traffic safety organizations are sponsoring the contests.

2017 poster contest winners:
Northeast Kansas
Avik Jain, Topeka; Austin Lamb, Osage City; and Alyson Welch, Overland Park
North Central Kansas
Lacie McLaughlin, Solomon; Breken Coup, Solomon; and Tanner Staedtler, Inman
Northwest Kansas
Aineka Burton, Norton; Peyton Isernhagen, Norton; and Dashiell Brown; and Quinter
Southeast Kansas
Makiah Woods, Bronson; Emily Britt, Columbus; and Marion Ryan, Parsons
South Central Kansas
Nora Ackermann, Andover; Alex and Abby Williams, Douglass; and Abilgail Yocum, El Dorado
Southwest Kansas
Jaylee Eckhoff, Meade; Jennicah Pinchon, Garden City; and Kathya Guillen, Garden City

2017 video contest winners:
Students from Eudora High School won first place. The class received their choice of an iPad, GoPro or Osmo Steadicam along with a $500 donation to the school.

Andrew Tabb from Shawnee Mission West High School captured second place. Kodi Rogers and Aly Tarrango from Scott City High School placed third in the video contest. Each received one of the remaining prizes listed above.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Set in stone: Concrete pavement patching extends life of Kansas roads

Bryant & Bryant Construction crew members use a concrete saw to score the pavement in a rectangular shape. 

By Donna Tollerton,
Public Affairs Manager, northcentral Kansas 

Concrete pavement patching plays a critical role in extending the life of our roads. A recent example of this type of project took place in Saline County on I-135.

The process starts with KDOT crews marking the areas that need to be patched by the contractor. This allows our crews to specify the amount of concrete needed and helps make sure all areas are patched.

A concrete saw is then brought in to score the pavement in the shape of a rectangle. This shape is important because the patches are rectangular for ease of constructability, requiring less manual labor. They generally last for about seven to 10 years. 

Crews patch concrete to extend the life of the road surface. 

After the concrete saw carves out the shape, a milling machine is used to break up the existing concrete. This process is completed by hand with jack hammers because the machine can't cut square corners. After this process is finished, the concrete is then poured in place.

Remember, if you see highway workers to slow down, move over and give them room to work. 

A handheld jackhammer is able to reach the sharp corners of the shape.  

Monday, July 30, 2018

Coffeyville’s Dalton Defenders Museum

Coffeyville's Dalton Defenders Museum is filled with
memorabilia from the raid and the city's early days.
       After robbing a string of trains, members of the notorious Dalton gang decided to up the stakes. Vowing to “beat anything Jesse James ever did …”, the gang made plans to rob two banks at the same time, in the light of day. Cash in hand, they would skip the country and begin new lives in South America.
All the Dalton gang members passed away in the battle
except Emmett Dalton, who is shown in the upper left
corner of the photo.
       Their plan was not a success. On Oct. 5, 1892, brothers Grat, Bob and Emmett Dalton and fellow gang members Dick Broadwell and Bill Power tried to disguise themselves as they approached the C.M. Condon and Company Bank and the First National Bank, located on the opposite sides of a downtown street in Coffeyville. But a citizen recognized them and alerted other residents. Then a crafty bank clerk delayed the theft by fibbing that the safe was on a time lock and couldn’t be opened right away. This delay gave the locals time to prepare for a battle. The ensuing bloody shootout left four of the gang members and three Coffeyville residents dead.
       The famous Dalton gun battle and the citizens who defended the town are remembered at Coffeyville’s Dalton Defenders Museum. The museum houses a treasure trove of photos and memorabilia from the raid and Coffeyville’s early days. Looming large in the center room is the well-known photograph of the four dead Dalton gang members stretched out in an alley, while a lively lad named Ray Clark peers through the fence in an historic photo bomb. The Winchester rifle seen in the enlarged photo rests in a glass case to the side.
       Emmett Dalton, who survived the raid despite 23 gunshot wounds, is pictured at the upper left corner of the photo. Sentenced to life in prison at Leavenworth, Emmett proved a model inmate and was pardoned after only 14 years. Upon his release he moved to California and became an upstanding citizen in the real estate business, also working as an actor and screenwriter.
       The Dalton Defenders Museum is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., and is staffed by knowledgeable local guides. To date the museum has hosted thousands of visitors from all 50 states and around the world. 
       Visitors can first relive history at the museum at 113 E. 8th Street, and then step outside to tour the Dalton Raid Site at the Old Condon Bank, 807 Walnut, and the Death Alley and Jail in the 800 block of Walnut Street.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Inside KDOT: Meet Catherine Patrick, State Transportation Engineer

By Mallory Goeke,
KDOT Communications Specialist 

The Transportation Blog is starting a new series called, “Inside KDOT,” that will highlight people and their roles at the agency that help keep Kansas moving. KDOT employs about 2,500 people who each play a part in planning, constructing and maintaining the state’s infrastructure.

The series kicks off with Catherine Patrick, State Transportation Engineer for KDOT. She earned her civil engineering degree from Kansas State University and has been with the agency for nearly 30 years.

We had the chance to ask her a few questions for our new series: Inside KDOT. This new series will highlight some of the individuals and roles that make up the agency that helps keep Kansas moving. 

Catherine Patrick, State Transportation Engineer
Q: When did you decide you wanted to be an engineer?

A: I am not sure when the concept came together. I began taking math and science classes and decided being an engineer would be a good use of those resources. I started out studying electrical engineering, then quickly found out I was a visual person, plus I enjoyed being outside, and I found civil engineering was a good fit.

Q. How important are engineers to Kansas?

A. Transportation engineers are important to our society and economy. Engineers design, build and maintain our roads, bridges and all modes of transportation. These are all necessary as we continue to design and build to meet the future needs for mobility.

Q. Why did you decide to work for KDOT?

A. KDOT was hiring field engineers and being involved with the construction of roads and bridges sounded interesting.

Q. How did you move up in the agency? 

A. I started as a project engineer for nine years then I was promoted to Construction Engineer where I stayed for five years — all in the Kansas City metro area. I decided to take a Professional Civil Engineer II position in Topeka working in the Bureau of Construction & Maintenance in the Change Order Section. I spent about a year and a half at that position. An opportunity to go back to the field came up as a Metro Engineer in Topeka so I had that position for another year and a half. I also had a small stint as the Metro Engineer in Bonner Springs, followed by being the District One Engineer. At that time there was a lot of movement in KDOT and folks were retiring. In 2007, I came back inside as the Director of the Division of Operations and stayed in that position until the summer of 2016 when I took my current position as State Transportation Engineer.

Q. What are some major projects you have had the opportunity to work on?

A. As a project engineer there were several projects in the Kansas City metro area, one was the Quivira Road Viaduct over I-35 in Johnson County. This was an exciting project because it was not just a reconstruction and expansion project, like many of the types we do. This was a new alignment connecting 87th Street to 91st over I-35 in Lenexa. Another project in this same area was the 87th Street and I-35 Single Point Urban Interchange (SPUI) project.

Q. What is your favorite part about working for the agency?

A. My favorite part is the people that I have worked with at KDOT. I have had an opportunity to work with many employees here and with others doing work for KDOT. I have learned a lot and hopefully contributed to their learning as well. I would say “variety is the spice of life” and every day there are new challenges.

Q. What do you want to say to other women and girls who are interested in becoming engineers? Any advice?

A. I would say “Why not?” It’s not about what you are, but who you are as an engineer.
Keep a positive outlook, don’t sell yourself short, learn from others at all levels, don’t be afraid to ask questions and always be open to new challenges.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#IAMKDOT: Tim Nichols

Challenges and problem solving often come with the job. For Tim Nichols, KDOT Engineering Technician Specialist from Syracuse, the challenges and problem solving that come with KDOT’s larger projects are the best part of his job. 

After attending Dodge City Community College, Nichols returned to his hometown of Syracuse and spent time working in auto body repair and at the local grocery store. He then began with KDOT as an Engineering Technician Associate. Nichols is responsible for inspecting highway projects, authorizing contractor payments and overseeing contractors and construction projects so the work meets KDOT specifications. He says the best part of his job is the challenges that come up on larger projects and the problem solving that goes into finding a solution. Nichols has been named District Inspector of the Year once and Area Inspector of the Year three times during his 20 years with KDOT.

Nichols is always busy. You might find him out inspecting bridges or highways during the day, and you may also find him checking a stoplight at midnight on a holiday to make sure it works properly. He also assists with flagging traffic in the in the dead of night during power outages or meets a crew at the concrete plant at 3:30 a.m. to prepare for a concrete pour.  

And while Nichols truly enjoys his work, what he enjoys the most is using his talents to help others. Nichols serves his church as the Legacy Youth Ministry Director and as a trustee on the local Board of Administration of the Syracuse Wesleyan Church. He also volunteers as the sound technician for Syracuse High School basketball games, plays, concerts and special events, is a founding member of the Syracuse Sand Park board, is a builder, auto mechanic, sound technician and volunteer dad, uncle and grandpa. He enjoys playing the bass and guitar, working on cars and woodworking.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Water issues addressed in test sites along U.S. 169 project in Allen County

A solar panel and data logger is installed at a U.S.169 testing site to monitor the ongoing effectiveness of the geotextile fabric.

By Priscilla Petersen,

Southeast Kansas Public Affairs Manager

U.S. 169 is currently closed between Humboldt and Iola for reconstruction of the pavement. The driving surface on the highway section had deteriorated significantly through the years and is now being rebuilt, starting at the base.

KDOT has installed rolls of wicking geotextile fabric on top of the roadway subgrade at two test sections along the U.S. 169 pavement reconstruction project in Allen County.

According to KDOT Pavement Design Leader Ryan Barrett, water plays a major factor in many cases of distressed highway pavement throughout the state of Kansas. To address moisture issues on U.S. 169, two 1,000-foot-long test sections of wicking geotextile fabric have been installed on the project. Barrett said that removing water and reducing moisture in the base and subgrade soils can minimize pavement distresses and prolong the life of the pavement.

A moisture sensor is installed.
He said the geotextile fabric has been used successfully on projects in other states, and is a promising technology for dealing with moisture problems in roadways. Moisture and temperature sensors with data loggers have been set up on the test sections to monitor the effectiveness of the wicking geotextile fabric. The data collected from the sensors and other testing processes will be used to evaluate performance of wicking geotextile for moisture reduction.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Lake Scott State Park

The beauty of Lake Scott State Park can be seen throughout the area.

There are 26 archeological sites in and near the park.
Just north of Scott City and west of U.S. 83 on K-95 lies Lake Scott State Park, a ruggedly beautiful oasis hidden in Ladder Creek Canyon. The 1,020-acre park surrounds the 100-acre, spring-fed Scott State Fishing Lake. The beautifully wooded valley surrounded by chalk bluffs and rocky crags is a stunning surprise that lies in sharp contrast to the dry lands and prairie the area is known for. 
The native sandstone house built in 1888 is now a museum.
According to ksoutdoors.com, the park is listed by National Geographic as one of the country’s must-see state parks and is one of the most historic locations in Kansas with 26 archeological sites documented in and adjacent to the park. The park is home to the remains of northernmost known Native American pueblo – El Cuartelejo which was named a National Historic Landmark in 1970. The pueblo was built in the 1600s by Taos Indians from northern New Mexico who came to Kansas to escape the Spanish. They dug irrigation ditches, planted crops and shared the site with their Apache friends for 20 years. The Pueblo was later occupied by Picuris Indians. 
An aerial view of the park.
In 1888, Herbert Steele homesteaded in the area, building the Steele home in 1909. This four-room house of native sandstone is now a museum displaying furniture and tools used by the early settlers of Scott County. Herbert and wife Eliza donated their property to the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Commission in 1928. 
The park is open to camping, boating, swimming, hiking, hunting and fishing and offers trails for hiking, horseback riding and opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitats including wild turkey, deer, bobcat and beaver. 




Thursday, July 19, 2018

New projects announced for U.S. 69 and K-99

Kansas is an important state. We grow and raise food that feeds the world and more than $600 million worth of freight moves across our state every day. Parts of the state are seeing an increase in traffic volumes and the need for economic development have also made it obvious that infrastructure updates are needed.

Those who live and travel in Kansas are about to see some improvements to U.S. 69 and K-99. And although these highways are in different parts of the state, the updates will provide crucial benefits.

Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. announces U.S. 69 improvements in Crawford County. 
U.S. 69 in Crawford County
Two U.S. 69 projects were announced yesterday, and they are in the Crawford County Corridor. A combined $57.4 million will expand 11.5 miles of U.S. 69 to a 4-lane upgradable expressway for those who travel out of Pittsburg north to the Bourbon County Line. Studies have shown a nearly consistent growth in vehicle traffic and a steady increase is projected. This expressway will increase capacity and support economic development in the area while relieving traffic density concerns around the community of Pittsburg.  

It is thanks to the legislature’s commitment to modernizing and expanding transportation infrastructure across the state that both delayed T-WORKS projects are now moving forward.

The estimated letting date for the southern section is Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 for the northern section. KDOT is currently acquiring right of way for this project.

Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. announces K-99 improvements at the Caterpillar facility in Wamego.

K-99 Wamego Project
Another project announced yesterday was the K-99 Wamego Project. The city of Wamego, Caterpillar and KDOT have worked together for more than eight years to support the economic development of the area through joint solutions to address an immediate need to route commercial traffic to an improved bypass. KDOT will provide $3.5 million of the $8 million that will help the county sustain its economic growth and improve the quality of life for the residents of Wabaunsee County.

Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson and Governor Colyer discuss the K-99 project with locals. 

A segment of K-99 between Wamego and I-70 has been identified for improvements. This section of road will be straightened out and flattened to meet current design standards. Wider shoulders will also be added. The combined improvements will create better stopping distance and help drivers see farther away. This project is nearly four miles long and it will cost around $18.8 million to complete.
These projects are a perfect example of KDOT working with locals to improve our great state.

Kansas officials tour the Caterpillar facility as seen through this photo of a mirror from one of the Caterpillar machines. 

This project is expected to let in Fall 2020 and will last 18 months. KDOT will begin acquiring right of way later this summer.