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:

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 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 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
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