Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Building bridges: U.S. 50 bridge reconstruction in Hamilton county continues

There are more than 25,000 bridges of all types and sizes in Kansas. KDOT is responsible for approximately 5,000 of these bridges. Each is important to the state's transportation system, allowing drivers to cross valleys, waterways, railroad tracks and other highways, as well as local roads and streets. 

Like bridges, bridge replacements come in a variety. Some replacements take months, while others take years depending on the type, size and location of the bridge. Some replacements require a complete shut-down of the bridge and detour during reconstruction.  Others may use a shoo-fly or temporary bridge very close to the original bridge to move traffic during reconstruction. Some bridges are completed by reducing the number of traffic lanes on a bridge, from two lanes to one lane or four lanes to two lanes, so that traffic continues on one half of the bridge at a reduced rate while the other half of the bridge is reconstructed. While this has its pros and cons as well, this configuration allows traffic to continue without a detour or the additional time and expense of a shoo-fly bridge.

This last option of reducing traffic on the bridge while it is rebuilt is new and is currently being used by Bridges Inc. of Newton to replace the U.S. 50 bridge approximately one mile west of the K-27 junction in Hamilton County.  Here is how one part of a bridge replacement works.

Step 1: Crews remove the south side of the bridge deck while traffic continues on the north side of the bridge.

Step 2: Bridge piers and supports are removed on the south half of the bridge so crews can rebuild the south half of the bridge.

Step 3: Piles and concrete piers provide the support for the bridge.  Piles or H-beams are driven approximately 17-feet into the ground (on this project) until they reach bedrock.  Crews then assemble the pier’s form around the H-beams.  This form is filled with concrete to form the pier. The first concrete pier shown above has been poured and the H-beams are visible at the top of the form. The second pier form has been built and is ready to be poured. 

Next, Crew members stand atop the pier form preparing to pour concrete for the pier using a drop bucket.

Step 4: Crews have poured the concrete for the pier and have begun to place beams as part of the falsework that will become the bridge’s deck.  Falsework is a temporary structure that, along with forms, will hold the liquid concrete that becomes the bridge’s deck until the concrete is set, cured and strong enough to support itself.

Above:  A Bridges Inc. crew member wraps the freshly poured pier in a “blanket” to protect it from the below-freezing temperatures expected overnight.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Professional drivers expected to participate in Truckers Against Trafficking training

“Had the call not been made that brought law enforcement out to the truck stop, doctors said she would have died within the next few days,” Truckers Against Trafficking, a non-profit organization that strives to train, equip and empower truck drivers across the country to recognize the signs of Human Trafficking, said. “That call was made by a professional truck driver, Kevin Kimmel, who recognized that something was off ─ something was wrong ─ and instead of turning a blind eye, he picked up the phone. She calls him her guardian angel, he calls himself a Trucker Against Trafficking.”

Thanks to legislation passed last year in Kansas, drivers who want to receive a CDL will now be expected to undergo Truckers Against Trafficking training.

According to TAT, at any given time there are more truck drivers on our nation’s roads than there are law enforcement officers. Because of their numbers, truck drivers can be the ears and eyes of our country’s highways. Truck drivers and truck stop employees could find themselves interacting with victims of human trafficking.

By participating in this training, the trucking industry could be a major component in fighting against the human trafficking industry because they would be better equipped to recognize the signs.

According to TAT, nearly 500,000 trucking industry members have undergone training.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline has received more than 1900 calls from truckers. More than 500 cases of potential human trafficking instances have been identified. Around 1008 potential victims were identified thanks to this training.

Because they can be trained to recognize the signs and report human trafficking, Truck drivers who undergo this course will continue to help save lives, according to TAT.

“If every driver, prior to hitting the road, had this life-saving information and training, imagine how many more calls will be made,” TAT said. “Imagine how many victims will be recovered out of this horrible reality, and how many perpetrators will be arrested.”

You can find more information about this organization at http://www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org/

January is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, you can find out to recognize the signs by reading our blog on this topic: and you can check out https://humantraffickinghotline.org/

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Lewis and Clark Viaduct I-70 westbound bridge closure set to begin next week

An overhead map of the Lewis and Clark Viaduct reconstruction.
Work will soon begin on a portion of the Lewis and Clark Viaduct. Closures for the reconstruction of the I-70 westbound bridge are scheduled to take place on Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. Temporary closures to install traffic control equipment may take place leading up to the two-year westbound closures. 

Westbound I-70 will be closed from the Broadway interchange in Kansas City, Missouri westward to the connections in downtown Kansas City, Kansas for the duration of the two-year construction period. The main detour route will use I-670 westbound and the secondary route will use I-35 southbound. To detour to Kansas City, Kansas, please use the Central Avenue Exit from I-670. To facilitate traffic operations using the Central Avenue Exit:

  • A second lane will be added to the 3rd St./James St. Exit Ramp from I-70.
  • Temporary signals will be added to two intersections.

 In preparation for the reconstruction, demolition of the Lewis & Clark Viaduct westbound lanes is tentatively scheduled for early March, a date and time are yet to be determined. The public will be able to watch the demolition on KDOT’s Facebook page. 

While it is not anticipated that traffic control will change once the project begins, please continue to check the Kansas City Metro page on the KDOT website for more details at www.ksdot.org/bureaus/kcMetro

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

#IAMKDOT: Ted Coleman

This month’s #IAMKDOT feature is Ted Coleman. Coleman said that he “Bleeds KDOT Orange” and is the Sub-Area Supervisor for east Wichita. He has been working for KDOT for more than 33 years. During his college years at Kansas State University he would work for KDOT during the summer in Hutchinson. Coleman then became an Equipment Operator Trainee and eventually an Equipment Operator at the Hutchinson Sub-Area.

During his career he has worked his way up from Equipment Operator to Equipment Operator Specialist to his current position.

Coleman said that he enjoys having fun and helps people realize their dreams. He said he would describe himself as a Dallas Cowboys fanatic, a science buff, a motivational writer and a survivor of esophageal cancer. He loves to travel, and he said he loves his son more than anything in this world.

“My life goal is to be an authentic person of faith, and to be someone who encourages, equips and empowers others for honest journeys of their own,” Coleman said.
In this month’s illustration, Coleman is depicted rescuing a dog that had been lost for several days in Wichita. He crossed four lanes of traffic to save it.

#IAMKDOT is an illustration project that recognizes KDOT employees who work hard to keep Kansans moving. This series also serves as a reminder for travelers to slow down and remember that underneath those neon vests are individuals with families, friends 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, January 23, 2018

KDOT Crew's Interesting Find

KDOT crews often find unique items on Kansas Highways. Recently, they found a dog agility tunnel bag in northwest Kansas. 

KDOT crews are used to picking up lost items off the roads, but the Oakley crew from Northwest Kansas had a particularly interesting find last November.

The crew located several canvas, weighted, bag-like items along I-70 in Logan County. Although no one knew what they were at first, an internet search determined they were pieces of Salty Dog brand dog agility equipment, valued at a little over $100 each!

In an attempt to locate the owners, the items were posted on the Northwest Kansas KDOT Facebook page. With the help of many post shares, including one by the Salty Dog company, the owners were located in Oregon.

Cynthia Downey of the North American Dog Agility Council said their group was traveling to Hutchison, Kan. for an agility event. After a late-night stop in Colby, they continued on I-70 when they heard a loud crashing sound. They looked back to find two large bins of tunnel bags, equipment used to hold the agility tunnels down, along with some other miscellaneous equipment were missing. They stopped and picked up what they could find, but were unable to locate all of the tunnel bags.

Luckily the bags were still in great condition and Downey was able to pick them up on another trip through Kansas in December.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Protecting Pollinators: Where do monarch butterflies go during winter?

For several years KDOT has been taking great strides to protect our pollinators. Last spring, in cooperation with the Monarch Highway Project, KDOT crews planted 23 varieties of wildflowers that enhance our roadsides and provide beneficial nectar sources for pollinators such as bees, beetles, moths and of course, butterflies.

Providing a habitat full of wildflowers and milkweed for monarch butterflies is significant step we can take to protect these important insects and animals.

The Monarch Highway Project consists of other state DOTs, organizations, private entities and local agencies that work together to protect bees and monarch butterfly populations that are declining.

The Monarch Highway, or a path that monarch butterflies seem to take when they migrate to Mexico, runs through the I-35 corridor and the butterflies pass through several states including, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Have you ever wondered why and how these amazing insects migrate?

The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon. The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do. Unlike other butterflies that can overwinter as larvae, pupae, or even as adults in some species, monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Using environmental cues, the monarchs know when it is time to travel south for the winter. Monarchs use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel long distances. Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home!

Monarchs can travel between 50-100 miles a day; it can take up to two months to complete their journey. The farthest ranging monarch butterfly recorded traveled 265 miles in one day. It is crucial to the survival of the monarch butterfly to have pollinator habitat to feed on as they travel southward. A wide variety of fall blooming nectar sources on our roadsides provides the food source necessary for the monarch to successfully complete the journey.

Directional Aides:
Researchers are still investigating what directional aids monarchs use to find their overwintering location. It appears to be a combination of things, such as the magnetic pull of the earth and the position of the sun..

Overwintering in Mexico
Monarchs roost for the winter in oyamel fir forests at an elevation nearly 2 miles above sea level. The mountain hillsides of oyamel forest provide an ideal microclimate for the butterflies. Here temperatures range from 32 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is lower, the monarchs will be forced to use their fat reserves. The humidity in the oyamel forest assures the monarchs won’t dry out allowing them to conserve their energy.

As the winter ends and the days grow longer, the monarchs become more active and begin a 3-5 week period of intense mating activity. In Mexico, they begin to leave their roosts during the middle of March, flying north and east looking for milkweed plants on which to lay their eggs.

For more information on what KDOT is doing to protect these pollinators check out http://pollinatorpartners.ksdot.org/

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

#KDOTTUESDAYS: Linger Longer brings visitors to Bennington

Today's #KDOTTuesday takes on a trip to Bennington where we stop in and enjoy a visit to the Linger Longer.

This authentic soda fountain is one of only a few remaining and visitors will experience a trip back in time when they walk through the doors.

The Linger Longer, located in a 106-year-old building, boasts a beautiful tin ceiling and an antique cash register.  They are still using the same soda fountain and back-bar where they hand mix fountain drinks with spigots and pumps.  

The Linger Longer also has a collection of over 2,000 Dr. Pepper collectibles and antiques, the second largest on display in the world.  There is a game room with pinball, pool, Foosball, and air hockey; and a courtyard with tether ball.  Aptly named, you will want to linger longer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Snow plows: Winter weather fighting machines

A KDOT Snow plow clears snow during a winter storm. There are 591 trucks across the state that can be used to clear snow and ice off roadways. 
Parts of the state may see some winter precipitation this week and KDOT crews are ready to combat inclement weather with some of the strongest winter weather fighting machines around: Snow plows and tow plows. 

KDOT has 591 trucks that can be used to clear snow and ice off of roadways.  Snow plows are a common sight during wintry months. These giant vehicles are essential to traveler safety and for helping commerce continue to move across the the state highway system.

A tow plow is a 26-foot-long, independently-steerable plow that can clear two lanes at a time. 
The tow plow is a 26-foot-long, independently-steerable mounted plow that can move  to the right or left. It allows a single driver to plow two lanes at a time and frees up other crew members who can concentrate on other highways needing snow removalTow plows are big and the truck pulling the tow plow is about the size of a semi-truck. There are seven of these distributed across the state to assist KDOT crews with fighting winter weather and they are located in Goodland, Colby, Hays, Salina, Ottawa, Bonner Springs and Olathe. 

While these tow plows are great for clearing multi-lane roads, do not try to pass them and don't crowd any of the plows as KDOT crews work to clear the roads. 

Check out this video where our talking cone friends, Mike and Earl, meet with a KDOT truck named Sandy to explain how tow plows work:

For road conditions check out www.kandrive.org or dial 511. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

#KDOTTUESDAY: Mine grouting continues on K-7 modernization project

An agitator truck is ready to pump grout through the hoses to the stinger. The grout mix can be pumped directly into the top of the truck at the concrete plant on the project.

The long pipe on the track hoe boom,
called a stinger, pumps grout through
previously drilled holes to fill the 
underground voids and form a 
barrier wall.
Today's #KDOTTUESDAY takes us to southeast Kansas.

Long-abandoned underground mine voids that were part of the Weir-Pittsburg coal bed are being filled as part of the K-7 widening and modernization project in Cherokee County. Crews have been working steadily to pump concrete grout into holes drilled five feet apart along a four-mile section of the project.

 The grouting will create a barrier wall to support the new highway alignment to the west of the centerline.  According to Regional Geologist Denny Martin, the completed barrier wall will convert the mine voids into room-like spaces. These small underground rooms will then be filled with more grouting material.

The entire project includes 11 miles of K-7 from U.S. 160 at Columbus north to U.S. 400 at Cherokee. The roadway is being widened to 44 feet, with 12-foot driving lanes and 10-foot shoulders. The first phases of work started in 2016. 

The mine grouting is part of the final phase of highway reconstruction, from U.S. 160 north to K-102. Koss Construction of Topeka is the primary contractor.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Coats and Car Seats: Keeping your child safe and warm

This winter, whether your family jumps in the car for a drive to the grocery store or to grandma's house, buckling up is one of the best ways to travel safely. It is always a good idea to buckle your child in an age and weight appropriate car seat or booster seat. But during these cold months, it can be hard to tell if your child is fastened in securely while they are wearing heavy winter coats. 

Below is a graphic with some suggestions that can help your entire family be prepared to travel safely and warmly this winter.