Thursday, July 19, 2018

New projects announced for U.S. 69 and K-99

Kansas is an important state. We grow and raise food that feeds the world and more than 600 million dollars’ worth of freight moves across our state every day. Parts of the state are seeing an increase in traffic volumes and the need for economic development have also made it obvious that infrastructure updates are needed.

Those who live and travel in Kansas are about to see some improvements to U.S. 69 and K-99. And although these highways are in different parts of the state, the updates will provide crucial benefits.

Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. announces U.S. 69 improvements in Crawford County. 
U.S. 69 in Crawford County
Two U.S. 69 projects were announced yesterday, and they are in the Crawford County Corridor. A combined $57.4 million will expand 11.5 miles of U.S. 69 to a 4-lane upgradable expressway for those who travel out of Pittsburg north to the Bourbon County Line. Studies have shown a nearly consistent growth in vehicle traffic and a steady increase is projected. This expressway will increase capacity and support economic development in the area while relieving traffic density concerns around the community of Pittsburg.  

It is thanks to the legislature’s commitment to modernizing and expanding transportation infrastructure across the state that both delayed T-WORKS projects are now moving forward.

The estimated letting date for the southern section is Fall 2019 and Fall 2020 for the northern section. KDOT is currently acquiring right of way for this project.

Governor Jeff Colyer, M.D. announces K-99 improvements at the Caterpillar facility in Wamego.

K-99 Wamego Project
Another project announced yesterday was the K-99 Wamego Project. The city of Wamego, Caterpillar and KDOT have worked together for more than eight years to support the economic development of the area through joint solutions to address an immediate need to route commercial traffic to an improved bypass. KDOT will provide $3.5 million of the $8 million that will help the county sustain its economic growth and improve the quality of life for the residents of Wabaunsee County.

Secretary of Transportation Richard Carlson and Governor Colyer discuss the K-99 project with locals. 

A segment of K-99 between Wamego and I-70 has been identified for improvements. This section of road will be straightened out and flattened to meet current design standards. Wider shoulders will also be added. The combined improvements will create better stopping distance and help drivers see farther away. This project is nearly four miles long and it will cost around $18.8 million to complete.
These projects are a perfect example of KDOT working with locals to improve our great state.

Kansas officials tour the Caterpillar facility as seen through this photo of a mirror from one of the Caterpillar machines. 

This project is expected to let in Fall 2020 and will last 18 months. KDOT will begin acquiring right of way later this summer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

STEM camp empowers students to build the future

Students will have an opportunity to build a solar powered car like this from last year's STEM camp. 

By Mallory Goeke
KDOT Communications Specialist

Building the future of our country may begin at a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) camp such as the one that the Kansas Department of Transportation and Washburn University are sponsoring during the next two weeks in Topeka.

Robyn Dudney, a program consultant for KDOT, said that each week, about 25 middle school students will learn about different STEM careers, including transportation industry opportunities.

“The campers will do various hands-on activities and tour local facilities,” Dudney said.  “Some of the activities include building and programming robotics, building solar cars, tinker computer aided devices, developing solid fuel rockets, design and build electric boats, which will be tested in the Washburn pool.”

Students will build robotic cars. 
At the end of the week, each camper will showcase their projects to family and friends. Secretary of Transportation Secretary Richard Carlson will speak to the students and their families at the end of the first week.

Students also will have opportunities to learn from experts when they tour the KDOT materials lab and Washburn Tech. Dudney said they will have the chance to explore how construction equipment is operated.

“This is the second year for the camp,” Dudney said. “Last year the camp lasted two weeks with the same students. This year we decided to hold two one-week camps, so we can reach out to more children.”

The program is funded by KDOT in conjunction with Washburn University. KDOT’s Office of Civil Rights Compliance plays an active role in the day-to-day activities of the camp.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Desert your cars and go on an adventure at the Sand Hills State Park

By Laurie Arellano,
Interim Communications Director and District 1 Public Affairs Manager

Just off the TransAmerica bike trail in Hutchinson, drivers on Old K-61 will see “Share the Road” signs as bikers head to Sand Hills State Park to experience over 14 miles of trails on the 1,123 acres of preserved sand dunes, grassland, wetland and woodlands

For those who love the look and feel of desert sand but want all the humidity that Kansas is famous for, Sand Hills State Park is where you want to hike or bike.

Sand Hills State Park proudly proclaims it has more sand than most deserts. Dunes between 10 and 40 feet high were formed by wind-deposited sands from the Arkansas River at the end of the Ice Age and are now covered with native grasses and plants.

A total of eight trails, one of which is an interpretive trail and a total of four of which are designated equestrian trails, weave across the prairie, along water features, and among native flora and fauna.  Biking and hiking are allowed on all trails, but the hiking trails are more suitable for biking unless riders have fatbikes to conquer the very soft, loose sand on the equestrian trails.

The 14 miles of trails run deep into the park. In the heat and humidity of central Kansas, carrying water is going to be a must, as the workout walking, riding or pushing a bike through the loose sand is harder than it looks.  But the view of the natural prairie from the top of the dunes is worth the trip in and up to the top.  Some trails offer a cooler trip through primarily woodland sections of the park.

Transport yourself back to untouched prairie sculpted by natural forces from long-ago and take a walk or a ride through Sand Hills State Park. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sternberg Museum

One of the most famous fossils at the Sternberg Museum in Hays.
Many of the displays at the museum are very realistic as seen in the photos above and below.
Make no bones about it, the Sternberg Museum in Hays ranks among the best natural history museums in the country in terms of scientific holdings.
The museum is home to one of the top collections of Cretaceous marine and Neogene terrestrial vertebrate fossils. It also features an excellent assembly of Pteranodon material, the largest collection of fossil grass seeds and an assortment of modern biological material, mammals, reptiles and plants.
Perhaps its most famous display is an exceptionally well-preserved Gillicus within a Xiphactinus, or better known as the Fish-within-a-Fish. The unique find was discovered by the museum’s namesake George F. Sternberg and shows a large 14-foot fish with its last meal, a six-foot fish, fully intact inside of it.
Other attractions include a realistic Cretaceous diorama (watch out for the T-rex!) and a fossil dig pit. Many areas of the museum encourage hands-on interaction including its Discovery Room, where visitors can explore drawers full of touchable specimens from the Great Plains, climb on Charlotte the Spider and view a variety of live animal exhibits, including native snakes, turtles, lizards and fish.
In addition to its permanent displays, the Sternberg also hosts temporary exhibits and various events throughout the year. Visit the museum website at for more exhibition and event information.
What will you discover under the dome at the Sternberg Museum?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

KDOT crews assisted with Eureka tornado clean up

KDOT crews assist with picking up debris left behind from a tornado that moved through Eureka. 
An EF-3 tornado hit the town of Eureka on June 26 causing damage to the high school, houses, trees, power lines and the Kansas Department of Transportation Eureka Subarea office.

KDOT Area offices in El Dorado, Iola and Independence sent numerous employees, several dump trucks, message boards, loaders, barricades, a track hoe and a skid steer to assist in the clean-up efforts.

KDOT storage buildings sustained heavy damage from the tornado. A complete renovation to these buildings is scheduled for later this year. 

After helping the citizens of Eureka with clean-up efforts KDOT employees began cleaning and clearing their subarea maintenance office at Eureka. On a hot and muggy day in early July, several crew members could be seen sweeping away debris and relocating various objects that the twister’s high winds had flung far and wide on the grounds.

Equipment Operator Senior Roy Junkersfeld (right) and Equipment Operator Billy Jones (left) pick up debris left behind at the Eureka Subarea.
This year’s tornado was the second to strike Eureka in a two-year period. Eight people were injured. Seventy-eight residences either sustained significant damage or were completely destroyed. The tornado inflicted considerable damage on the subarea’s chemical storage and equipment storage buildings, wash bay, salt dome and office. Sultry daytime temperatures in the aftermath of the tornado, combined with long hours of community clean-up and little sleep, left the crew members “just exhausted,” said Subarea Supervisor Jeff Marks. Adding more hardship to conditions was a two-day power outage in the city.

State Transportation Engineer Catherine Patrick and Operations Director Larry Thompson visit Eureka to survey the tornado damage of the cold storage building. 
Yet thanks to dedicated KDOT staff, the bruised and battered subarea continues to carry out its work. On a brighter note, a complete renovation of the subarea is scheduled for later this year. Director of Operations Larry Thompson said that he was impressed with the clean up efforts.  

"Immediately after the tornado passed, the Eureka Subarea Supervisor Jeff Marks, walked into the shop area – because he could not drive due to downed power lines and trees – and started securing the site," Thompson said.  "This included shutting off the gas supply which was leaking due to a broken pipe and dealing with an oil spill to keep it out of the local waterway. Then as the crew trickled in, the Citywide clean up efforts began. When we were there on Friday, the Eureka crew and equipment from District 4 shops and District 5 were actively clearing the streets and hauling debris. Just like that was normal business and it certainly was not normal."

KDOT crew members clean up after a tornado damaged the Eureka Subarea. 
After the tornado struck, KDOT closed a 21-mile section of U.S. 54 for several hours. With power lines down, KDOT employees couldn’t access the Eureka shop until June 28, Iola Superintendent Derrick Shannon said. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

That's so hot! Surface recycling extends life of highways

Surface recycling is one of the ways KDOT can extend the life of a road.
By Deb Gruver,
South Central Kansas Public Affairs Manager

Have you ever seen a surface recycling operation in action? You may have but just didn’t know it. 

Surface recycling produces a layer of rejuvenated asphalt on the road surface.

Surface recycling produces a layer of rejuvenated, uncracked asphalt on the road surface. This technique is a process that is 100 percent recycled. It removes the existing crack pattern in the layer and evens out any bumps or depressions on the surface.

The road surface is heated up and melted.

With several moving pieces, it's an impressive sight. Resembling a train, an assembly of machinery heats up the existing asphalt on the road, scoops it up, mixes it with oil, spreads it back out on the roadway and then rolls it flat. Propane is used to heat the asphalt indirectly, though flames can be seen on the underbelly of that portion of the “train.”

The melted road surface is scooped up. 

Imagine working on asphalt in July in Kansas
— hot no matter what the project. Then imagine working aboard machinery that literally melts the roadway. 

The road surface is rolled out and spread flat. It is now a rejuvenated and crack-free surface. 
In these photos, subcontractor Bettis Asphalt works on the recycling phase of a $3,493,290 project on K-4 stretching from the Ness/Rush county line to the Rush/Barton county line. Nearly 37 miles will get this treatment, and then Venture Corporation of Great Bend, the primary contractor, will place an overlay on top of what's been recycled.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Artful walk: Wichita State University's sculpture collection provides healthy activity

By Tom Hein,
Wichita Metro Public Affairs Manager

Tres Mujeres Caminando (Three Women Walking)  by Francisco Zuniga 
Combining outdoor walking and art appreciation is a healthy way to enrich the body and the mind. On the campus of Wichita State University, 76 sculptures are spread across the 330-acre campus, inviting walkers to discover a diverse collection – and improve their health.

Millipede by Tom Otterness.

There are works by famous artists – Auguste Rodin, Joan Miro, Henry Moore and others – but who created them is less important than how you experience the pieces as you walk around them.

Bust of Renoir by Aristide Maillol

Summer, albeit rather warm, is a great time to visit the campus and tour the Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection. With only summer school in session, there are plenty of free parking spots. Stop by the university’s Ulrich Museum of Art for a map of the collection or check it out online at

Man with Cane by Fernando Botero

Visiting all 76 pieces of art will be good for your heart – in more ways than one!

Monday, July 9, 2018

City of Atchison

The Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge shines at night in aesthetic lighting. 
The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.
Just about an hour north of Topeka, sitting on the banks of the Missouri River, Atchison is home to an international legend and a continuing inspiration to young women considering going into the sciences, technology, engineering and mechanical career fields.
To get to Atchison, birthplace of Amelia Earhart, K-4 out of Topeka offers wide open views of the horizon as drivers pass the farmland Kansas is so famous for. Or the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway, that runs along 63 miles of K-7 north and south of Atchison, has landscaped scenery to admire. Entering Atchison, the highway becomes the Skyway Highway.  Stay on the Skyway Highway and you end up at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge, a beautiful 2,500-foot tied-arch structure with wide lanes, bike paths and aesthetic lighting, which is a recently-completed joint project of the Kansas and Missouri DOTs.
Above, a tall Amelia Earhart impersonator
 walks along downtown during the annual
Amelia Earhart festival. Below, the riverfront
is packed with people enjoying the festival.
But the main attraction in Atchison is its distinction as the birthplace of Amelia Earhart, which is celebrated annually during Visit Atchison’s Amelia Earhart Festival.  The festival, which this year is July 20 and 21, celebrates spirit of legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart with a downtown music, food and crafts fair, star-filled outdoor concert, children’s activities, carnival, awards and honors, Earhart research and literature, music on the beautiful Riverfront, aerobatic performances and the “Concert in the Sky” fireworks show.
This year’s festival celebrates the 90th anniversary of Earhart becoming the first woman to make a solo round trip flight across the United States.  That year, she was also the first woman to make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean as a passenger. 
In addition to food, music, sights and speakers, the festival also features a fly-in and air show and tours of the historic Santa Fe Depot and of course, an open house at Earhart’s birthplace overlooking the Missouri River.
Motor on up to Atchison anytime, but plan to visit during the celebration of a Kansas hero, innovator and trail blazer who truly embodied ‘to the stars and beyond.’



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Three bridges in Kiowa County on U.S. 400 set to be repaired, more projects let

PCI Roads of Saint Michael, Minn., will make repairs to three bridges on U.S. 400 in Kiowa County as part of a $706,224 project approved in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s  June 20, 2018, monthly bid letting.
Crews will perform compaction grouting at a box bridge just east of the Ford County line. Compaction grouting is a technique that reinforces soil and stabilizes the ground. This work is to help correct some settlement issues at the bridge.
PCI Roads also will patch the deck and replace expansion joints on a bridge crossing the Union Pacific Railroad and patch the deck of a third bridge that crosses U.S. 54.
A total of 31 projects totaling approximately $9.5 million were approved as part of the June 20 letting. To see all of the approved projects, click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Celebrate the Fourth of July with these safety tips in mind

Kansans will hit the road and celebrate the Fourth of July with their loved ones. It is also close to the halfway point in the 100 Deadliest Days, the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day where more teens are involved in crashes. 

The Kansas Department of Transportation, The Kansas Highway Patrol and the Kansas Turnpike Authority  want to encourage travelers to plan ahead to and be prepared for their trips and celebrations.

From June 30 to July 4 last year, there were 549 crashes with seven people killed and 159 people who were injured.

Before travelers pack their cars, they can check their route for delays or construction with the help of KanDrive at, which can also be accessed from mobile devices. KanDrive includes camera images and interactive maps, as well as links to rest areas and travel and tourism sites.

Here are some additional safety tips to help travelers get the most of their Fourth of July celebrations and summertime fun:
  • Begin a trip with a full tank of gas and a fully charged phone.
  • As you travel, remember to move over for first responders and highway maintenance crews. If you are unable to move over, then slow down.
  • Keep emergency supplies in your car, including bottles of water, a phone charger and non-perishable food items.
  • Confirm that everyone in your vehicle is using their seat belt and/or an appropriately-fitted child safety seat.
  • Before you consume alcohol designate a sober driver ahead of time.
  • If you’re hosting a party provide non-alcoholic drink alternatives for guests who don’t plan on drinking or who are designated drivers. 

If you are involved in a crash or need assistance on a Kansas highway, call *47 (*HP) from a cell phone for a highway patrol dispatcher, or if on the Kansas Turnpike, dial *582 (*KTA). 

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Evel Knievel Museum

Color Kansas lucky, because the Evel Knievel Museum is at the historic Harley Davidson location in Topeka.
The Evel Knievel Museum in Topeka has numerous attractions.
A few of them pictured on this page include a truck named "Big
Red" that hauled all his motorcycles across the country, lots
of memorabilia and a interactive game where riders
can experience a jump.
For many, Evel Knievel was Batman, Superman and Captain America all rolled up into one. The 13,000 square-foot museum explores Knievel’s early days of jumping over a box of rattlesnakes until his retirement after approximately 175 jumps on physics-defying motorcycles that turned him into a legend.
The museum showcases a massive collection of authentic artifacts that belonged to Evel Knievel. Toys, action figures and other licensed products are also part of the exhibit.

One of the biggest attractions is the 1974 Mack Truck and Trailer, dubbed “Big Red,” which was famous for hauling Knievel and his motorcycles around the country and is one of the big reasons why the museum exists.
Lathan Mckay, former professional skateboarder, actor and an avid Evel Knievel enthusiast, reached out the crew at Harley Davidson to restore “Big Red,” which was left at an abandoned junk yard in Clearwater, Fla., and had seen better days. Upon its restoration, they decided to build a museum around the luxury vehicle.

Visitors to the museum can see the Skycycle X-2, which is a rocket with wheels that Knievel attempted to jump across Snake River Canyon in.  They can also interact with areas of the museum by trying out the museum’s Plan a Jump interactive wall game. There is also a virtual reality simulation where visitors can experience a jump through their own eyes while riding a motorcycle. A scene that was filmed on location in Topeka with the help of Doug Danger, who rode a vintage bike and a helmet that gives the viewer a 360-degree view of the jump as it happens.
The Evel Knievel Museum opened last year and so far, Evel Knievel enthusiasts from 37 different countries have visited. More than 54 percent of the visitors who enter are from outside Kansas.
Recently, the Evel Knievel Museum was an answer on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and it has been featured on USA Today’s Top New Attractions in 2017.
Through Labor Day, the museum will be open Tuesdays through Sundays.
For more information check out