Pages of Kansas transportation history – some yellowed, others wrinkled, all fascinating – reside in KDOT offices across the state. John Wiens, an Engineering Technician Senior, keeps watch over roughly 2,000 as-built completed construction plans for the South Central District Office in Hutchinson.
John Wiens, Senior Engineering Technician in District 5, views microfilm in the basement of the Hutchinson office, which is filled with old plans and documents.
He holds the documents in high regard, believing that they deserve to be preserved.
“I’ve got plans that go back to 1919 – probably even some older than that,” said Wiens, who has worked for KDOT since 1979.
Wiens’ office also features dozens of metal file cabinets holding old project files – records such as contracts, payrolls and change orders. One document dated Feb. 15, 1934, about a K-14 project in Harper County shows the cost of a shovel at $1.19 and a gallon of kerosene at 6 cents.
A report dated Feb. 15, 1934, about a K-14 project in Harper County shows the cost of a shovel at $1.19 and a gallon of kerosene at 6 cents.
The Southeast District Office has a records vault filled with orange project diaries that inspectors have filled out through the years. In the Southwest District Office, KDOT staff members have discovered original bills from the construction of their building.
Shelves of orange project diaries that District 4 inspectors have filled out over the years are pieces of Kansas transportation history.
KDOT has digital files of project documents, but Wiens thinks there’s something to pulling out a plan and spreading it out over a wooden table.
He’s running out of room in his office, but maintenance staff is building him new storage.
Wiens keeps plans hung up on racks “to keep them in good condition instead of just rolled up and thrown in the corner,” he said.
Plans in the District 5 office are stored on racks to keep them in good condition.
“To me, I really feel like they’re important. It’s kind of like a library. It’s history. We have a lot of outside surveyors and engineers who call me daily wanting information from these old records. It’s invaluable, some of it.”