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.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Beef Empire Days

From parades to a rodeo to various food-related events, there is lots to see and do as part of the
50th annual Beef Empire Days in Garden City as shown in the photos above and below.

Saddle up and head west for a one of kind celebration of Kansas beef.  Beef Empire Days in Garden City celebrates “BEEF... 50 years strong!”  and will reflect 50 years of tradition, celebration and education beginning June 1 and wrapping up on June 10.

Cattle have long been part of southwest Kansas history.  In 1951 Earl C. Brookover, armed with a degree in civil engineering and experience in irrigated farming and feedlot inspections, established a feedlot just north of Garden City.  This feedlot was the first commercial feed yard in the Midwest.  As the beef industry continued to grow, John Dohogne, Plant Manager at Garden City’s Producers Packing Company, and Earl C. Brookover began planning an event to advance the production and quality of beef, improve communications and provide continued education and promotion of beef.  Together, they began the Beef Empire Days Live and Carcass show, which first took place in 1969.

Events have come and gone over the last 50 years, but with almost 30 events over 10 days, there’s something for everyone including a live and carcass show, a carnival, athletic events, concerts and music, a ranch rodeo, a children's parade, a cattle crawl, chuck wagons, food trucks, barbecue and much more. 

Additional information and a complete schedule of all the events planned as part of this celebration are available at


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Animal ambassador: KDOT employee rescues wildlife

Abbie Wisdom-Williams holds a raccoon she rehabilitated. 
It all started with a turkey.

“My cat started chasing it around,” Abbie Wisdom-Williams remembers.
Abbie lived in Wichita at the time, right in the middle of the city, and started feeding the turkey in her yard.

“I left the food out on the front porch, and pretty soon, there was an opossum and raccoons,” she says.

She quickly got hooked rehabilitating wildlife.

Abbie, a Senior Administrative Assistant in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s South Central Kansas office, has been a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with the Kansas Department of Parks, Wildlife and Tourism for about 20 years now.

Abbie Wisdom-Williams feeds a newborn skunk.

In that time, she has taken in a real menagerie of animals. So far this year, she’s come to the rescue of newly-born raccoons, skunks, opossums, foxes and bunnies. Fawns will start needing her help in June.

She and her husband, David, also have rehabilitated badgers, bobcats, beavers and coyotes.

Abbie would love to get a call about a porcupine or a baby badger.

“I remember my Dad trying to catch a baby badger once. When my parents got a divorce, they didn’t fight over me. They fought over who got the cat,” she says, laughing.
Abbie has loved animals for as long as she can remember.

She and her husband have a pet skunk named Isadora Skunkin and five dogs. The skunk came to them as a baby. Its hips are not functional, so the skunk scoots everywhere using the power of its front feet.

Skunks are her favorite animals to rehabilitate.

A new-born skunk receives milk from a syringe. 

“The beavers were cool, but they’re an incredible amount of work,” she says.
She gathered limbs and twigs for them and had to fill, clean out and refill a stock tank every day for them.

“I was trimming everybody’s trees” when she had the beavers, Abbie says.
Her least favorite animals to work with are baby bunnies.

“I hate raising bunnies because baby bunnies have a tendency to be fine one minute and dead the next and you have no idea why,” she says.

Her crowning achievement as a rehabilitator, she says, was a raccoon that had been badly burned in a wildfire in the spring of 2016 near Burrton.

Photos she took show the raccoon’s progress — from burned to the bone and unrecognizable to ready to release. The raccoon stayed under Abbie’s care for eight weeks. Caring for the raccoon wasn’t easy.

“It hated me, and that was OK,” she says.

A baby opossum drinks form a baby food lid. The young marsupial was brought in after a dog found it. 

She continues to rehabilitate animals because “it’s my way of trying to repay them for all the damage that we as humans inflict upon them. And I’m trying to educate people to give them respect and space and not be so afraid.”

Abbie gets referrals from fellow rehabilitators and calls from the public. She remembers one call years ago from a woman concerned about a rabbit she had seen on a neighbor’s porch. It hadn’t moved in two days, the woman reported. Abbie drove out to the area, looked around and called the woman to confirm she was in the right place.

“Lady,” she remembers saying, “that rabbit is cement.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

KDOT announces test of drones in road survey projects

Kirkham Michael employee Wayne Scritchfield gets ready to launch the drone.
Topeka – The Kansas Department of Transportation has partnered with Kirkham Michael to test the effectiveness of new technologies in advancing project design processes and improving worker safety on Kansas highway projects.
Kirkham Michael and KDOT worked jointly on an approved project that will survey and design a passing lane on a two-mile section of U.S. 75 north of Topeka.  As part of the joint effort, Kirkham Michael surveyed the area via a series of drone flights yesterday.
Scritchfield retrieves the photo card after the drone flew for several minutes along the survey project area.
 “We are very excited to be partnering with industry to improve our processes that will not only save taxpayers money in the project planning and design phases, but also improve worker safety,” said Ron Feldkamp, KDOT survey coordinator.
Currently, road surveys for every road project are conducted by workers physically out on highway right-of-ways.  The data that they collect is transferred to design programs and used to by engineers to plan and design the project.
The use of drones to conduct the three-dimensional surveys can potentially save time, limit traffic impacts and significantly reduce the risks to employees.
Scritchfield, at right, talks about the benefits of surveying a road project with a drone after the test flight.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Riding for those who can't - Run for the Wall passes through Kansas

Hundreds of motorcyclists are participating in the Run for the Wall on the central route to Washington, D.C. Above, the group arrives at the KTA service area east of Topeka around 9 a.m. on Monday, May 21,
for a quick stop for gas and supplies.

Above, participants line for gas during the stop at the KTA
service area east of Topeka. Below, Secretary Richard Carlson
(left) chats with one of the riders.
The 30th annual Run for the Wall made a stop at the KTA’s Topeka service area yesterday as more than 1,600 motorcyclists are participating in the event that extends from Ontario, Calif., to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. Some are riding for a day or two, while some are riding all 10 days.

The event started on May 16 and includes three different routes across the country. About 670 are traveling on the central route, which extends through Kansas. The ride ends on May 25.

According to the website, “Founded by Vietnam Veterans, Run for the Wall recognizes the sacrifices and contributions made by all veterans who have served our nation. Veterans of recent conflicts, those currently on active duty, non-veteran supporters and patriots are especially welcome to join and ride with us, as we ride for those who can’t.”

Riders head out Monday morning to continue their trip across the country.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Grassroots effort in Topeka brings bicycling back to kids, in school setting

By Andy Fry,  Topeka Community Cycle Project

Over the last three years, the Topeka Bike Lesson and Safety Training (BLAST) program has reached more than 2,500 Topeka elementary age children, with plans to continue by either utilizing the gym space or outdoors when weather allows.  Grant funding made it possible to purchase the transport trailer and fleet of kids’ bicycles.

Providing the basic understanding of operating a bicycle around their neighborhood as well as basic handling skills better prepares these children to not only ride safe when out enjoying their community with their family, but also prepares them to be considerate road users as adults. In addition, there are typically some students unfamiliar with riding who have not yet had exposure to a bicycle. We provide starter bikes, called balance bikes, and a brief course to get them used to riding and then proceed with pedals and the functional coursework.

With the courses taught in the USD 501 Physical Education curriculum, this program allows the instructor to bring real world safety and healthy activity concepts into the classroom. Teachers have reported children are engaging and enjoying the opportunity to be active on bicycles during their school day.

Currently, all the materials and equipment necessary to operate the program are in place and working effectively. The Topeka Community Cycle Project has partnered with the Shawnee County Health Department and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment through the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction grant to fund an education position to staff the BLAST program and help teachers in the school setting. BLAST allows children to understand some of the physics and science surrounding movement on a bicycle as well as enjoy exploring their community.

Students line up with their bikes as part of their participation in Topeka's Bike Lesson and Safety Training program. 

The Topeka Community Cycle Project (TCCP) is partnered with USD 501 Topeka Public Schools and Safe Kids Shawnee County (Safe Kids) to offer Topeka Bike Lessons and Safety Tools BLAST programming in Topeka's elementary schools. Topeka Community Foundation (TCF) and Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods (HHN), through the Kansas Health Foundation, provided donations and grants needed to launch the program. TCCP applied for the Healthy Initiatives grant from TCF.

The Topeka Community Cycle project strives to broaden access to cycling in the city through education and bike repair..  

The Topeka Community Cycle Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community bicycle shop. TCCP strives to broaden access to cycling in Topeka through hands-on education and bike repair and is located at 801 NE Poplar. TCCP is open Thursdays from 5 - 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
Through a partnership with the Shawnee County Parks and Recreation Department, TCCP is housed in the Oakland Community Center and is open to allow individuals to come and work on their bike for free, as well as earn and learn about bicycles while volunteering. TCCP is currently developing several other programs this summer with Shawnee County Parks and Rec and other community organizations to bring safe, healthy experiences in Topeka.

Please contact TCCP at if you are interested in participating in BLAST as a volunteer or have another interest in partnership or programming or give us a call at(785) 380-9827.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

KDOT employee turns love of UAS into more than a hobby

AJ Wilson maneuvers his drone during a demonstration.
AJ Wilson spent $50 on his first drone.

“It was really junky,” Wilson admits about the purchase in January 2017.

So Wilson, the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Area Engineer in Winfield, upgraded, buying a new model for just more than $1,000 — including replacement insurance.

“It’s become an expensive hobby,” Wilson says.

Flooding of the Ninnescah River in September 2016 is what inspired Wilson to look into getting his own UAS — unmanned aircraft system.

“You can’t visualize how big a flood it was until you can get up above it,” he says.

 Wilson used his drone during an emergency project to repair and replace steel pile jetties in the river, which runs close to U.S. 81. The steel piles help prevent erosion. He used the drone to make a new map every few days to show progress of the project.

Wilson uses his Mavic Pro for work and pleasure. He’s on his third version of his current model.

The first two became victims of trees. The camera broke in the first one when it got caught in a tree and fell out. The second fell out of a tree and into a river.

“So it’s not so much getting caught in a tree as it is falling out of a tree,” he says.

Wilson uses his drone for work. He makes maps, including elevation and 3-D maps. Drones can be used to calculate the volume of stockpiles and for survey work. Wilson is excited to serve on KDOT’s UAS committee. 

He’s also excited about the recent announcement that KDOT was chosen as one of 10 entities to participate in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, an initiative aimed at shaping the future of drones in America.

“I’m excited to hear about this selection,” Wilson says. “This will allow KDOT to be a big player in the conversation about drone integration into both the construction and maintenance of our highway infrastructure.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

#IAMKDOT: Augie Carrillo

On his way home after working all day at a project, Agustin “Augie” Carrillo, an Engineering Technician Senior for District 5 in Winfield, encountered a family stranded on the road. Instead of driving by, he stopped to make sure their flat tire was changed safely.

That’s the kind of person Augie is, co-workers say.

The family was so impressed that they took a photo with him. Augie was still wearing his safety vest.

“He gives 100 percent – there’s no doubt,” Engineering Technician Specialist Robin Gregory said.

Diligent beyond measure, Augie is known as an expert about asphalt labs, Gregory said.
He works well with contractors and “always keeps the project manager informed,” she said.

Augie is in his 19th year at KDOT. His wife, Gianna, nominated him for #IAMKDOT, saying he is a “very hard worker and a wonderful husband and father.”

They have two children in their 20s, including a daughter who has Down Syndrome. Because of her, Augie “is an advocate for NOT using the R-word in a negative way,” Gianna said.

One of his biggest accomplishments involved the rebuilding of six bridges in two years. Augie was the inspector on site and also helped other employees with their senior progressions during that time.

During the bridge projects, Augie guarded over two killdeer nests until the eggs hatched and they left the nests.

Augie loves the Pittsburgh Steelers, fishing, hiking, camping and yard work – basically anything outdoors – and his 1964 Chevy truck.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Kansas aims to save lives with “Click it. Or Ticket.” enforcement

Kansas ranks towards the bottom one-third in seat belt usage among all 50 states. State and local law enforcement are working to improve this ranking by stepping up enforcement to crack down on motorists who aren’t wearing their seat belts as part of the Click it. Or ticket. seat belt enforcement campaign.

More than 150 law enforcement agencies across Kansas will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement as part of the national campaign that runs from May 21 through June 3, concurrent with one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year.

“The Click it. Or ticket. campaign is about saving lives. We would be grateful if every occupant we observed was wearing their seat belt” said Ben Gardner, Kansas Highway Patrol Technical Trooper. “Our increased enforcement around Memorial Day serves as a reminder that wearing a seat belt is the easiest thing you can do to save your life.”

In 2017, nearly half of the 359 deaths from crashes in Kansas were not buckled. Young adults are dying at disproportionate rates because they are not wearing their seat belts in Kansas. In Kansas, 56 percent of 18-to-34-year old occupants killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belts in 2017. Male pick-up truck drivers between the ages of 21-34, and drivers in rural areas are among the top unrestrained fatalities.

“Seat belts save lives every day. But they only save lives when they are used and there are still many people in Kansas who don’t buckle up,” said Chris Bortz, KDOT Traffic Safety Program Manager. “Our goal is 100 percent compliance. It doesn’t matter where you go, drivers need to buckle up for every ride, every time because a deadly crash can happen to anyone.”

In 2017, Kansas seat belt usage was 82 percent, below the national average of 90.1 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. From 2014 to 2016, seat belts saved nearly 41,500 lives across the country.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

KDOT announces selection to drone test program

Close up of a drone in the grass during the U.S. DOT's announcement that Kansas was selected to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program. 

The Kansas Department of Transportation has been selected as one of 10 participants to participate in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, an initiative aimed at shaping the future of drones in America.
The UAS Integration Pilot Program is an opportunity for state, local and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration.

“This is a terrific opportunity to explore new ways to use this technology to reduce the risks to our workers during infrastructure inspections, search and rescue and remote area assessments,” said Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson. 

Undersecretary of the U.S. DOT Derek Kan said that Kansas has been a trail blazer of aircraft design and that yesterday's announcement continues Kansas leadership in the aerospace industry.

Kansas submitted an outstanding proposal because it gave us a chance to work with a transportation agency that supports aviation innovation," Kan said. "The Kansas application will enable long distance-beyond visual line of sight operations over a large geographic area utilizing a state-wide Unmanned Traffic Management system."

Kan said there were two big reasons the application stood out.

"The proposal utilizes extensive in-state resources and a fantastic partnership with several key agencies. Most notably, a fiber optic network to support operations," Kan said. "Kansas has deployed a UTM system across the state. This system offers an airspace management dashboard that integrates with FAA radar data. The development of this UTM is particularly exciting for the agriculture sector— and agriculture, of course, is one of the most important industries that could be revolutionized by drone technologies."

Secretary Carlson, Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann and other Kansas officials cheer when Kansas is selected to participate in the program. 
With about 140,000 miles of public roads, many in rural areas, Kansas is an ideal location to test the technology, which will benefit not only transportation but also agriculture and many other industries doing business in Kansas.

The program will partner with industry and local agencies to test the use of unmanned aircraft across a variety of applications that will help transportation departments operate more safely and efficiently, including assessing weather-affected roads, conducting bridge inspections with minimal impact to traffic and even locating and assisting stranded motorists more quickly.

Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann said that UAS impacts lives of Kansans today and that will only grow in the future. 

"Kansas has a deep history in aviation and we understand the existing UAS positively impacts our economy, and its future growth in Kansas represents a truly historic opportunity," Mann said. "The potential improvements and advancements of emergency response search and rescue will save lives both in rural and urban areas. UAS' likely effect on production agriculture will be huge. Decreasing costs and increasing yields are crucial for our farmers and ranchers as agriculture producers in Kansas and the farmers around America work to feed a hungry world."

The program is expected foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration and provide actionable information to the U.S. DOT regarding the expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

“KDOT strives to be on the cutting edge of transportation technology,” Carlson said. “We are always looking for better, more efficient ways to help make travel safer for Kansans, visitors and the commercial industries that depend on our roads.”

More information on the UAS Integration Pilot program can be found here

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Teens from across the state gather to learn about traffic safety

The Kansas Teen Transportation Safety Conference started out with a  video greeting from Trooper Ben Gardner and surprise guest, American actor Eric Stonestreet. Together, they welcomed a group of more than 200 high school students who attended the first day of the event in Topeka. The students are leaders of traffic safety programs at their schools.

Laykn Leigh, a sophomore from Ellsworth High School, said that the first day of the conference was very interesting.
"The conference was really eye-opening," Leigh said. "We plan on bringing a lot of information back to our school."
Students from Ellsworth High School snap a selfie with Trooper Ben Gardner. They were a few of the many students who attended the Teen Traffic Safety Conference in Topeka. (Courtesy photo)

The conference, which is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation and AAA, is designed to share timely topics of interest to the transportation community. It is bringing students together to collaborate, develop their leadership and strengthen their communications and teamwork skills. Once they return home, they will then have the opportunity to educate their peers and communities about the importance of improving traffic safety behaviors.

Students from Goodland High traveled across the state to attend the first Kansas Teen Transportation Safety Conference. 
While at the event, traffic safety professionals and Kansas safety advocates will continue to have the opportunity to share with the students during interactive sessions. Scholarship opportunities from Stonestreet are being awarded during the conference. The event ends this afternoon. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mighty Sampson of the Cimarron stands tall

The Mighty Sampson of the Cimarron is a bridge that stands tall in Seward County. 
Built in 1888, the Rock Island Railway put Seward County and Liberal on the map.  The railroad stretched over the plains, providing Kansas with a gateway to the rest of the world and transporting goods in and out of southwest Kansas.  In stark contrast to the drought ridden plains and dry river beds common in southwest Kansas today, the Cimarron River, located between Kismet and Liberal, presented a problem for the railroad when it was built.  

The sand-choked, low lying creek was prone to flooding during heavy rainfalls.  The initial crossing was built near the town of Arkalon, where trains slowed to 30 mph to navigate the 3.5 miles of curves and trestles crossing the river. 

In 1937, floods washed out the first of three bridges built to cross the river.  The bridge was rebuilt in the same place, but on Aug. 18, 1938, the “Gold Ball” freight train proceeded across the bridge following a heavy rainfall.  Halfway across, the bridge, weakened by heavy rainfall and turbulent waters, disappeared and dropped the train and crew into the river.  

Floods washed out bridges in 1937 and the Gold Ball freight train attempted to cross the river but fell into the waters killing two and injuring four men. Thirty train cars sank to the bottom of the river. Courtesy photo from the Kansas Historical Society. 

Two men were killed, four men were injured and 30 train cars and the engine sank into the river.  Repairs began immediately, but on Sept. 5 the Cimarron flooded again and destroyed the Arkalon bridge for the second time.  While no trains or freight were lost, John Farrington, Chief Operating Officer for Rock Island, made the radical decision to reroute the railroad. He also decided to build a state-of-the-art bridge at a cost of $1.5 million, an unthinkable amount in 1938.

Plans to build a new bridge were developed after floods weakened the old bridges
Photo Courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

In late September 1938, work began on the new bridge.  Over the next 10 months, crews moved five million cubic yards of earth to build the approaches for the new crossing. Caison-sunk concrete piers, built in the art deco style of the period, were placed on foundation 65 feet below the riverbed.  By the summer of 1939, steelwork was being built and the actual bridge spans began taking shape some 92 feet above the river bed. 

On July 8, 1939, at 2:35 p.m., Rock Island train #13 was the first to cross the new bridge.  According to Lidia Gray-Hook with the Seward County Historical Society, the bridge was completed just in time to provide the U.S. with a safe transportation system for supplies during World War II.  In fact, the bridge was so important to the U.S. that is was closely guarded during the war to prevent sabotage.

A close up view of this 80 year-old bridge.  Courtesy Photo.

Today, 80 years later, the Mighty Sampson of the Cimarron still stands, and is a majestic marvel that can be viewed by passersby on U.S. 54. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Building the future: KDOT attends iBuild, inspires future construction professionals

High school and middle school students had the opportunity to climb inside 
KDOT vehicles and see how they operate from the inside.
More than 1,000 middle school and high school students in the Kansas City Metropolitan area had the opportunity to meet with transportation industry professionals and learn about various construction industry careers at the iBuild Showcase that took place at Bartle Hall in Kansas City on Thursday, May 5. 

KDOT crew members shared what it is like to work for the agency, what they see on a daily basis in work zones, and how to operate the various equipment and vehicles. They encouraged them to pursue careers that will help keep Kansas infrastructure strong and the economy growing.

Students asked the crews how KDOT uses advanced technology to perform their jobs every day. KDOT employees were able to explain how sensors and computer programs help determine the right mixture of road treatments during winter weather.

KDOT is committed to strengthening and encouraging construction professionals well into the future. Many of our jobs offer training and can be filled by high school graduates. For more information on job opportunities check out our website: 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Motorcycle Awareness Month

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month and today we are taking a trip back in time to a blog written in 2010 by Phyllis Marotta, who works in our Traffic Safety Office.

It's May...and that means Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month! It's been so cool & rainy around Topeka until this past weekend that I haven't seen as many bikers out as usual. However, with warmer temps the past few days, I saw lots of them hitting the roads.

Unfortunately, "hitting the roads" can mean something much more tragic to motorcyclists than the phrase means to the rest of the motoring public. This past month, I've had two acquaintances involved in crashes. Thankfully, neither of them was seriously injured, but both crashes served as a reminder to me of how precious life is...and how quickly a relaxing ride on a sunny day COULD have turned tragic.

The first of the crashes involved a good friend, an experienced rider who was wearing his helmet, leather jacket, jeans & boots. He pulled out in front of a pickup that had just turned left. In this case, my friend made the error of not looking twice before pulling out. Neither vehicle was going very fast, but the pickup hit the bike in the saddle bag area, pitching the bags, the seat, and my friend to the pavement. Thankfully, the helmet served its purpose - although the bill is now crumpled, my friend's forehead was not! And, although he is still pretty stiff & sore, he had no broken bones or road rash from hitting the pavement, thanks to the protective clothing.

The second crash happened just last Friday, involving a 28-year-old who graduated high school with my son.  In this crash, a car pulled out from a stop sign on a busy highway without yielding to the motorcyclist.  Although I don't have all the details from that crash, I have heard that the young man hit the car, flew off the bike, and after taking a bounce on the pavement, was able to run to the ditch to avoid oncoming traffic.  Again, thankfully, this young rider's injuries were not severe.

Both of these incidents could have been avoided altogether if someone had taken that second look before pulling out.  Please...look twice, save a life! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

KDOT announces Kansas airport improvement projects

Syacuse-Hamiton County Municipal Airport before it's
condition was improved. 

Syacuse-Hamiton County Municipal Airport after it's
condition was improved in 2016 as part of the KAIP. 

– Twenty projects at 18 airports have been selected for Kansas Airport Improvement Program (KAIP) funding for planning, constructing or rehabilitating public use general aviation airports.
The aviation industry represents $20.6 billion economic impact and employs more than 92,000 Kansans. 
“Kansas is known as the ‘Air Capital of the World’ for good reason, and we are working to grow every segment of the aviation industry,” said Gov. Jeff Colyer. “These projects will make our citizens safer and bolster the infrastructure that launched our aviation pioneering legacy.”
The KAIP program requires airport sponsors to share in project costs by paying a portion of the total project. The KDOT Division of Aviation, which manages the program, considered 148 project applications this year with a combined total value of more than $42 million.
“This $3 million combined award will satisfy the top 20 aviation projects,” said Bob Brock, KDOT Director of Aviation. “And we will aggressively pursue additional opportunities to meet aviation needs statewide.”
Kansas communities are engaged more than ever in growing their airports as economic development engines.
“The applications we receive each year for KAIP projects are very competitive, indicating the value local officials attach to maintaining and developing their airports,” said Secretary Richard Carlson. “KAIP allows us to advance the effectiveness of our airport system on a statewide basis.”