Wednesday, June 20, 2018

KDOT continues to protect pollinators

A butterfly lands on a milkweed plant. 

The Kansas Department of Transportation is buzzing about pollinators lately.
This week is National Pollinator Week and KDOT, along with five other state DOTs and the Federal Highway Administration, signed an agreement that will improve pollinator habitat along I-35, a key migratory corridor for monarch butterflies.

Bee and monarch butterfly populations are on the decline.  About three-quarters of the world's flowering plants and many of the food crops eaten in North America depend on pollinators. In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $24 billion worth of products annually. The lack of pollination would mean no apples, blueberries, almonds, melons, pumpkins, chocolate, coffee and more. 
  
For the third year in a row, KDOT continues to help protect pollinator habitats by planting native wildflowers and grasses.  

Last year,  KDOT’s Environmental Services unit, along with KDOT crews from the Ottawa Subarea, planted approximately 15 acres of wildflower seeds on three plots of land around the Homewood rest area along I-35.

KDOT crews plant 1,196 milkweed plugs at the U.S. 59 and I-35 interchange east of Ottawa.
Recently, KDOT received a grant from the Monarch Watch and planted 1,196 milkweed plugs consisting of Common, Butterfly, Whorled and Green Antelopehorn species.  KDOT Headquarter and the Ottawa Subarea office staff completed the project. This monarch habitat restoration project is located at the interchange at U.S. 59 and I-35 east of Ottawa and covers approximately 36 acres.

KDOT crews plant 2,000 native wildflower pants, consisting of 32 different species at the U.S. 400 and U.S. 169 Junction in Montgomery County. 

Earlier this month, KDOT Headquarters and the Independence Subarea office staff used a grant from the Monarch Watch to plant 2,000 native wildflower plugs, consisting of 32 different species. This pollinator habitat project is located at the Montgomery County rest area, near the U.S. 400 and U.S. 169 junction, northeast of Independence. The plant beds are easily accessible to by sidewalk to those who utilize the rest stop and that meander through the area. Soon, informational signage will be placed along the pathways for visitors as they enjoy a leisurely walk near the colorful wildflowers.

Once these wildflowers and milkweed plugs are established, these areas will become havens for monarchs and many other pollinators.

Table display at KDOT Headquarters. 

KDOT also has a table display located at the Eisenhower State Office Building with brochures and posters available until Friday in Topeka.
You can find more information on what KDOT is doing for pollinators at 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Harvest time: Share the road with farmers

Hot, windy days are quickly turning Kansas wheat fields into amber waves of grain. With the harvest season approaching, and even underway in some parts of the state, more farm equipment and trucks will be taking to the roadways.

KDOT and the Kansas Highway Patrol offer the following tips to help you travel safely around farm equipment this harvest season:

Slow down: Farm equipment moves slower than you and typically doesn’t exceed speeds of 15-25 mph. Use the orange triangles on the back of farm machinery as a cue to reduce your speed.

Share the road: Tractors, trucks and combines take up more lane space than a normal vehicle. Do not pass unless you can clearly see ahead of both your vehicle and the machine you are passing. Farmers may not always be able to move over for you to pass, so remember to be patient!

Watch for turns: Be aware of farm equipment pulling on to roads from fields and vice versa. Also, farm equipment pulling to the right side of the road may not always be turning. Larger pieces of equipment require wide left turns, so allow plenty of room and time for them to turn.

Don’t assume: Most farmers regularly check for vehicles around them, but don’t assume they know you are there. Farm equipment can be quite loud, hindering the driver’s ability to hear your vehicle.

Stay alert: Expect heavy truck traffic near grain elevators and co-ops. Grain trucks may be stopped on the road while waiting to unload grain. Consider using an alternate route away from elevators.

See tracks, think train: Grain goes to market by train as well as truck! Be watchful when approaching railroad crossings.

As always, make sure you and your passengers are buckled up every trip, every time.

Check out this video for more safety tips! 


Monday, June 18, 2018

Cross Timbers State Park


The photos above and below show various areas around Cross Timbers State Park.

South of Toronto, off of K-105 at Toronto Lake, lies the remote yet beautiful Cross Timbers State Park.
The 1,075-acre park and 2,800-acre Toronto Reservoir are nestled in in the southwestern corner of Woodson County. As part of the Chautauqua Hills region of the Verdigris River Valley, Cross Timbers features a diverse terrain of flood plains, oak savannah, prairie grasslands and forests.
Once a preferred hunting ground of Native Americans of the Osage Nation, abundant wildlife can be found here. Wander along the windswept shore of Toronto Lake and soak in the sunlight reflected on the waves, or fish in quiet coves for catfish, bass and bluegill. Have a leisurely lunch at one of the stone picnic tables and enjoy watching and listening to the local songbirds. Hike your way along the Ancient Trees Trail to get a closer look at the aged, twisted oaks lining the way, or take the Blackjack Oak Ridge Trail to catch glorious views of native wildflowers.
Park visitors can also go mountain biking, swimming and boating. During the summer months park naturalists lead weekend outdoor interpretative programs. Cross Timbers offers a variety of camping options, ranging from backcountry sites to modern campgrounds with restrooms and showers.
For more information about Cross Timbers State Park contact CrossTimbersSP@ksoutdoors.com or visit www.ksoutdoors.com.

 

 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Political signs don't belong on KDOT right of way


Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. But not on Kansas Department of Transportation right of way, where the only signs you should see are there for your safety and to help you get to your destination.
As election season ramps up, KDOT is reminding the public that campaign signs are a no-no on our right of way. So are garage sale signs and business signs.
By law, all right of way on state highways is to be used exclusively for public highway purposes. Only regulatory, guide and warning signs are allowed on the state highway system. KDOT has jurisdiction over all interstate, Kansas and U.S. routes on the state’s 9,500-mile system.
KDOT removes political or business signs on state right of way, taking them to the closest subarea office.
“It’s almost a full-time job,” said Area Superintendent David Lechner, who works in Wichita.
People can claim seized signs but must agree to not put them on state right of way again. Political signs not picked up will be disposed of after the election. Condition of signs is not guaranteed.
“People put them up anywhere,” said Area Superintendent Gene Watts, who works in Pratt. He remembers one candidate who was adamant that he had the right to put a sign on state right of way. The candidate later called Watts to apologize.
Political campaign advertising is allowed on private property bordering state right of way. But remember to get permission to place a sign on private property.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

KDOT calls for Transportation Alternative projects


The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is pleased to announce the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Program Call for 2020 Projects.

KDOT's TA program helps fund public transportation for people who need a way to get around. 

KDOT’s TA Program provides funding for a variety of alternative transportation projects. These include the construction of pedestrian and bicycle facilities and infrastructure for non-driver access to public transportation, projects that enhance safety and mobility for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders, projects that improve scenic or environmental assets in our state, Safe Routes to School projects, and more. An estimated $7 million in federal funds are anticipated to be available to award for Federal Fiscal Year 2020. All selected projects will be required to meet a minimum 20% local cash match.

Safe routes to school is one of may programs that receives funding from KDOT's TA program.


All of KDOT’s TA Program materials, which includes the TA Program Guide, the project application form, frequently asked questions with answers, and more, are available for download at: http://www.ksdot.org/bureaus/burtransplan/TransAlt.asp

KDOT crews improved sidewalks as part of the Safe Routes to School program in Erie last summer. 

Important Dates:
  • Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – Call for 2020 Projects announced, and website will be live with program guidance materials and the project application form.
  • TA Program Workshops – KDOT will host two workshops to inform applicants about program requirements and expectations. Attendees will also review a demo application packet, cover any changes from previous rounds of TA funding, and participate in open and one-on-one Q&A session. Space is limited so please RSVP by 4 pm on Friday, July 6, 2018 to Matthew.Messina@ks.gov or (785) 296-7448 and indicate which workshop you would like to attend.

Topeka: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – TA Workshop at Eisenhower State Office Building’s 4th Floor Auditorium, 700 SW Harrison, Topeka, KS 66603. 

Salina: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 – 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm – TA Workshop at KDOT’s District 2 Headquarters’ conference room, 1006 N. Third, Salina, KS 67401.  
  • Monday, September 10, 2018 at 4:00pm local time – Applications are due. Please submit 1 paper copy and 1 digital copy in PDF format on a USB flash drive, mailed to KDOT headquarters:
  • Attn: Matthew Messina, 700 SW Harrison St. 2nd Floor, Topeka, KS 66603.
  • October 2018 – November 2018 – KDOT staff will conduct Site Visits for all eligible projects.
  • December 2018 – Project selections and public announcement of awards

For more information, please contact Matt Messina at Matthew.Messina@ks.gov or call (785) 296-7448.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Governor Colyer, KDOT announce local projects funding improvements


Topeka – Governor Jeff Colyer announced  yesterday that the Kansas Department of Transportation is increasing the exchange rate for local public agencies seeking to fund local projects with state funds through the Federal Fund Exchange Program, returning the exchange rate to $.90 in state funds made available for every $1.00 in federal funds awarded a local agency, upon that agency’s request.

“By participating in the Federal Fund Exchange Program, we are hoping to increase the control that localities have over their transportation projects and make sure that funds are available when they need them,” said Governor Colyer. “It is important to me that local governments have access to resources for local projects with less federal regulation and bureaucratic red tape. We want Kansas solutions for Kansas transportation issues.”

Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson answers questions about the change in the Federal Fund Exchange Program, which was announced yesterday. 
The Federal Fund Exchange Program is a voluntary program allowing local public agencies the option to sell all or a portion of their federal funds for state transportation dollars, which provides greater flexibility of use and allows local agencies the opportunity to fund larger projects that may not have been possible with federal funding.

 “We value the partnership we have with local public agencies and we are looking forward to maximizing our capacity to help them improve their local transportation infrastructure,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson. “We want to continue providing a statewide transportation system that meets the needs of the people of Kansas.”

Federal funds exchanged for state funds can be used for local projects such as road construction, maintenance or preservation, safety improvements, sidewalks, ADA ramps, bridge construction, rehabilitation or repair, and low water crossings.

Max Dibble, Phillips County Commissioner and Kansas Association of Counties President, said, “Restoration of the $.90/$1.00 ratio in the federal funds exchange program will allow counties to further stretch our transportation dollars.  This means safer local roads and bridges for our citizens, farmers and businesses depending on them.”

Michael White, Executive Director of the Kansas Contractors Association commented that, “our economy depends on good roads and infrastructure. We appreciate the Governor and KDOT’s leadership to leverage innovative opportunities for transportation funding. This is a perfect example of how we can all work together - at the local, state and federal level - to repair and grow our economy through results-driven infrastructure investments.”

“As we travel the state and talk to cities, we repeatedly hear transportation funding and infrastructure development is critically important to maintain and grow our state,” said Erik Sartorius, Executive Director of the League of Kansas Municipalities. “We appreciate the Governor and KDOT for reinstating the 90-cent exchange rate for local projects. These funds are used to build important projects in cities including the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and reconstruction of roads and bridges.”

The exchange rate was $.90 for fiscal years 2011-2017 and was at $.75 for fiscal year 2018. Approximately $30 million in federal funds has been eligible for the program. The new rate will take effect with all new contracts.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Bartlett Arboretum


Established in 1910, “The Arb,” as it’s called, is open by appointment and by
accident, its steward says. Courtesy of Randy Bradbury
The Bartlett Arboretum might not be able to cure what ails you, but it certainly will give you a restorative respite from the hustle and bustle of life.
The grounds in Belle Plaine were first nurtured in 1910 by Walter Bartlett, a doctor, naturalist and civil leader, and now are in the hands of steward and musician Robin Macy and her devoted band of Soil Sisters and Brothers. 
The Bartlett Arboretum has beautiful flora
and fauna year-round. Courtesy of
John D Morrison
“The Arb,” as it’s called by its fans, features several state-champion trees as well as show-stopping buds and blooms. Add in the lush Zoysia lawn, and it’s a great place to forget your worries for an afternoon or evening. 
Open by appointment or by accident, as Macy says, the Bartlett Arboretum regularly puts on concerts, art fairs and other events. A $75 season pass gets people into the gate for all concerts, salons and open days. Information about season passes as well as the cost of admission for individual events is available at www.bartlettarboretum.com.
Macy, an original founding member of the Dixie Chicks, is a small but mighty force who is dedicated to preserving and honoring the piece of paradise just a short drive south of Wichita.
Upcoming concerts include Driven, a bluegrass band, which will perform on Father’s Day, when barbecue will be served. Nashville Americana singer and songwriter Nora Jane Struthers is on tap July 1 with The Party Line. Willis Alan Ramsey, described by Macy as an iconic Texas songwriter, plays July 15. Reservations are needed for a house concert July 29 featuring Bruce Forman and the Red Guitar.
A Story Walk featuring HWY 55 is free and open to families Aug. 19.
The Outside Track will provide a “Winfield warmup” with Celtic songs and stepdance on Sept 9.
All events are listed on the website.

The Arb is a favorite place for photographers. Courtesy of Randy Bradbury




Thursday, June 7, 2018

Was that a UFO? KDOT helps route F-35A on its journey to Wichita


No, it wasn’t a UFO — unless by UFO you mean “UN-FLYING-OBJECT.”

An F-35A is hauled through the U.S. 77 and U.S. 169 roundabout in Cowley County while on its way to the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University. 

Several residents of south central Kansas joked that an F-35A “durability ground test article” that the Kansas Department of Transportation helped route on its journey from Houston to Wichita was a UFO. The oversize load definitely was not something you see every day on the highway.

The aircraft is the second of three expected to be tested at the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University.

Engineering Technician Specialist Barry Santee at KDOT’s South Central Kansas District reviewed the route the jet took to ensure it would safely get to Wichita, taking into consideration the height of signs, the width between bridges and the width of roads.

The trucking company that transported the jet applied for a permit for the oversize load through the Kansas Truck Routing and Intelligent Permitting System.

“I have to override restrictions to make it work,” Santee said.

Doing so “takes a lot of communication” between various agencies.

“We’ve got to let all the locals and law enforcement know. Our subareas are involved too,” he said.

In Kansas, the jet came up U.S. 77 to K-15 and then up I-135 to NIAR’s facility at the old Kansas Coliseum.

Oversize routes must follow the approved route. Permits are good for 30 days, Santee said.

“Right now, we have 300 to 400 in the queue at any time in the month” for the district, one of six in Kansas. “I have seen it as much as a thousand in a month.”

Drone footage of the aircraft as it makes its way through Winfield. 

Routing oversize loads like the jet is lot of work, Santee said, “but it’s part of commerce.”
Many residents who saw the jet, which did not have an engine, took photographs of it. Winfield Area Engineer AJ Wilson took a photo of it from above with his drone.

A statement from NIAR said that “as part of the F-35 program, durability ground test aircraft undergo exhaustive testing to validate the structural integrity of the airframe to withstand a variety of maneuvers it will experience throughout its lifetime.”

The testing is required by the Federal Aviation Administration. The test aircraft will undergo a full disassembly and inspection at NIAR.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

KDOT creates new spokes creature to share transportation and safety messaging


What is orange and white, has four legs, a huge smile and is covered in fur?

Miles the KDOG!

Miles is a new face around the Kansas Department of Transportation and is ready to get to work as the official mascot of KDOT.


Mascots are everywhere. They are used by sports teams, food brands, restaurants, businesses, government agencies and even education programs. We all grew up with friendly faces who helped provide information on a variety of topics.  

Transportation safety can be taught at any age and important lessons can be shared in fun and creative ways. KDOT plans to use Miles to help share safety tips, safer driving advice and provide a healthy dose of fun activities for kids and their loved ones. 

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi mascot was created by KDOT staff to help create content that will reach Kansans on social media. The dog breed was chosen due to its hard-working nature and because they can be orange and white, like the safety equipment that can be seen along roadways.

Last month a contest took place on social media to name KDOT’s new mascot and “Miles” won by a mile.

Miles is pulling at the leash to share important messaging with you. Stay tuned for more content.  





Tuesday, June 5, 2018

New sculpture stands over the Mother Road in Kansas


KDOT crews from Columbus, Pittsburg and Chanute post the 20-foot-tall
Route 66 sculpture at the K-66/U.S. 400 roundabout.

The Route 66 shield is a new landmark on the
13-mile section of the Kansas Mother Road.

The Route 66 information kiosk, shown here at its
dedication in 2014, is located west of
the roundabout.


The FFA students at Riverton High School wanted to work on a project that would help boost local economic development and tourism efforts. Chapter members decided their project would be a metal sculpture that would stand on Historic Route 66 in southeast Kansas.


This spring KDOT forces posted the FFA’s completed steel sculpture, which features the Route 66 shield, at the K-66/U.S. 400 roundabout west of Riverton. Travelers can park and rest at the Route 66 information kiosk just west of the roundabout. There they can check out the history and many attractions along the Mother Road, which winds through the Kansas communities of Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs.


Sixteen FFA members welded the 20-foot-tall sculpture together piece by piece. The Route 66 Byway Committee and Cherokee County Commission provided financial support to the effort, and KDOT donated scrap steel beams that remained from previous bridge projects.

Members of the Riverton High School FFA pose in front of their masterwork
of welded metal components.





Monday, June 4, 2018

Pony Express



Above and below is the Pony Express home station in Marysville.
About 139 miles of the eastern part of the Pony Express route is in Kansas. From St. Joseph, the route primarily follows U.S. 36 to Marysville, then it turns northwest following the Little Blue River into Nebraska. The Kansas section had 11 stations to change riders or horses.
The only original Pony Express home station where they changed riders is open to visitors in Marysville. Pony Express Home Station No. 1 - Barn and Museum, includes the original stable, which is also the oldest building in Marshall County, and an annex that was added in 1991. For more information, click here 
About 16 miles northwest of Marysville in Hanover is the Hollenberg Pony Express Station state historic site where they changed horses. The site includes the historic station, a visitor’s center and a hiking trail. For more information, click here.
The entire Pony Express route went from St. Joseph, Mo., to San Francisco, Calif., and was nearly 2,000 miles long. The first ride took place on April 3, 1860. The original charge was $5 an ounce and 5 cents for each additional ounce.
During its 19 months of operation, it reduced the travel time for messages to about 10 days. It was the most direct means of communication before the transcontinental telegraph was established on Oct. 24, 1861, which basically brought an end to the Pony Express.
The Hollenberg Pony Express Station state historic site.
In the 1960s, a group of horse and trail enthusiasts re-enacted the Pony Express ride and formed the National Pony Express Association in 1977. The event is set to begin June 20 in California and end on June 30 in St. Joseph. For more details, check out https://nationalponyexpress.org/.

 

 

 

 

 


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Turtle time: How to help turtles cross the road



Did you know that the state reptile is the ornate box turtle?  This species of turtle is one of many that you may see as you drive Kansas highways this spring and summer.  During the warmer months of the year, turtles are looking for territory and places to build their nests.

Because of their slow-moving nature, they are often unfortunate casualties on the side of the road. Drivers can do their best to avoid hitting them, but they may also need help crossing the highway safely. There are things to consider before you make the choice to stop and help.

Your safety comes first. Be aware of your surroundings and traffic. Double check to make sure the road is clear. If the road is too busy, don’t risk it. Before you even leave your vehicle to help, make sure you are pulled well off the road and put your hazard lights on.

If you pick up a small turtle, grasp it carefully behind the front legs on both sides. Move the turtle in the same direction it was heading. Don’t turn them around. The turtle obviously wants to go in the direction it is facing. Placing it in the opposite direction will just cause the turtle to try crossing the road again. Some websites suggest placing the turtle at least 30 feet from the road so that it won’t get startled by oncoming traffic.

If you encounter a larger turtle you can approach them from behind and scoot them across with a blunt object.

Don’t take the turtle home with you or relocate it. Turtles thrive in the territories they call home and removing them can lead to confusion and may cause them to stop eating. They may also wander around and be at an even greater risk for getting struck by a vehicle.

Some turtles may have been injured by a vehicle. If that is the case, contact your local vet or wildlife rehabilitator. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has an updated list of wildlife rehabilitators here.

If you follow these safety suggestions you can be a turtle’s biggest hero! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Storms affect roads in northwest Kansas


Damage to U.S. 24 in Graham County, after severe storms and torrential swept across northwest Kansas on Memorial day. 

In case you didn't need another reason to turn around when the roads are flooded. Severe storms and torrential rainfall swept across parts of northwest Kansas on Memorial Day. That part of the state had several areas affected by flooding with areas of Graham and Trego Counties seeing the most impact. In fact, WaKeeney had 5.5 inches of rain that afternoon and evening.

Damage to U.S. 24 in Graham County, after severe storms and torrential swept across northwest Kansas on Memorial day. 

A portion of U.S. 24 between Hill City and Nicodemus sustained significant damage from flooding. The roadway has been closed from the K-18 junction near Bogue to Stockton and will remain closed until repairs can be made.

U.S. 283 was closed from WaKeeney to Hill City most of the evening because of water covering the roadway. High winds also caused several semis to overturn on I-70 west of WaKeeney, and damaged the roof of the salt and sand shed at the WaKeeney Subarea.