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

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 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.