Thursday, November 29, 2018

Car seat installation class could help save lives

By Lisa Knoll, Public Affairs Manager for southwest Kansas

Child passenger safety technician students use
their training to properly install car seats.  
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, more than 2,600 children under the age of 13 are involved in a car crash daily.  That’s one child every 33 seconds.  While most families put kids in car seats, the latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 59 percent of car seats are not installed correctly.  As the District Six Public Affairs Manager for KDOT, I am all too familiar with the statistics.  In addition, I live in a county with a child safety belt usage rate of 81 percent, which is well below the state’s average of 90 percent. 

Remembering the confusion and frustration I felt installing and adjusting my daughter’s car seat, I enrolled in a three-day CPS technician certification class to make a difference in the lives of children and families in southwest Kansas.

My class included professionals from health care, EMS, police departments, KDOT and private individuals.  Our instructors were career law enforcement officers with more than 30 years of experience installing car seats and certifying technicians.  We all had one thing in common — a desire to make our communities safer for the children and families we serve.     
The first two-and-a-half days were intense — we discussed injury prevention, crash dynamics and seat belt systems. We also learned about car seats and studied car seat and vehicle manuals.  Our class completed several practice scenarios given a child’s age, height, weight and special needs.  We picked out the correct car seat and installed it in a vehicle multiple times. The class was also given five different car seat installations, we identified what was incorrect about each installation. 

Child passenger safety technician students use 
their training to properly install car seats.  
By lunch on the third day, we were ready for the final test. We hosted a car seat check lane at the Kansas Highway Patrol parking lot in Garden City.  Our instructors warned us that car seat installation was a bit of puzzle, and you never knew what to expect.  They were right.  Three cars, three seats and three children were part of the challenge, and each of them had unique scenarios.   

The first installation was basic and straight forward.  A mother-to-be arrived with an infant seat still in the box.  She was going to be induced that night, so the check lane came at the perfect time for her.  Two of my classmates showed her how to correctly install the seat and check the installation for future reference.

The second car’s occupants were an older gentleman and a preschool-age child who was in a forward-facing booster seat.  Three of our classmates greeted them and noticed right away that the seat was not correctly installed.  My classmates attached and tightened the top rear tether of the car seat, which reduces the risk of head injury in a crash.  They explained this to the caregiver so that he could correctly install the seat in the future.   
Inside the third car was a mom and an infant.  The rear-facing seat was already installed in the mother’s car, she just wanted us to check it.  My classmates noticed the level on the seat’s reading was off, which meant the seat was not positioned correctly.  They removed the seat and tried to install it again, but the seat belt didn’t lock in place like it was supposed to. 

Child passenger technician student reads
a car's manual to better understand how to
properly install a car seat for that vehicle. 
On closer inspection, they found that both seat belts in the back seat were faulty and would not lock the seat in place, which could put the infant in danger if there was a crash.  The only option was to install the seat using the vehicle’s LATCH system in the center back seat.  With the seat installed in the correct position according to the seat’s level, they realized the seat was in an almost upright position which was not safe for the infant.  When it was determined the level must not be working, the instructors were called over. After it was decided that the level was indeed faulty, another seat was provided and my classmates helped the mother correctly install.

It was a dizzying three days filled with information, demonstrations and practice.  In the end, thanks to our instructors, we have 10 newly certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians in southwest Kansas ready to assist parents.

If you are interested in learning more about child passenger safety or becoming a certified technician, visit

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Just another day at the office: KDOT crews save lives

KDOT Highway Maintenance Supervisor, Clyde Thrush helped save the day for one critically ill patient during the weekend snow storm. 

A major storm hit most of Kansas on Nov. 25, and the hard work of numerous KDOT employees across the state to clear the highways did not go unnoticed. Two examples of these efforts include employees from north central Kansas.

For Clyde Thrush, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Minneapolis, snow removal and treating the roads for ice is just part of the job. But that day, it meant helping to get a critically ill patient the urgent medical care they needed. 

Jim Frye, KDOT Field Maintenance Manager, was contacted by Concordia Hospital and was told they had an emergency patient who needed to get to Salina Regional Hospital as quickly as possible. They asked for a snow plow to lead the way down U.S. 81. Frye contacted Thrush who happened to be at the junction of U.S. 81 and U.S. 24 at the time and was more than happy to assist. 

“We do what we can here at KDOT to help the public,” said Thrush.
According to a thank you note written by Brandon Bennett of Concordia Fire Department, he said the employee driving the snow plow (Clyde Thrush) went above and beyond the call of duty that day. 

“While en route, we got a call from dispatch that there was a snow plow truck trying to catch up to us to lay salt in our path,” Bennett said. “Mind you, Highway 81 this evening was a sheet of ice, and we were barely able to maintain 25 mph without our ambulance starting to slide. 

 “So eventually the snow plow caught up to us about 15 miles south of Concordia and we fell in behind him as he layed salt. This plow driver stayed in front of us all the way to Salina. Not only that, but he even got off the freeway and ensured our path was clear on the side streets up until we pulled into the hospital with our patient.”

Cody Deneault, Equipment Operator from Belleville, also helped people who were stuck in a snow drift. 

For Cody Deneault, Equipment Operator in Belleville, helping the public meant getting out to help a person whose vehicle was stuck in a snow drift. According to an email sent to KDOT, Deneault pulled over to assist the motorist dig underneath the car and then helped to push the car out of the snow drift. 

A special thanks to all the KDOT employees working around the clock to clear the highways during this blizzard.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

U.S. 24 in Graham County reopens after flood damage

Earlier this year a portion of U.S. 24 in Graham County was damaged by flooding.

Memorial Day flash floods caused damage to a box bridge structure and adjacent roadway, prompting the closure. Crews from the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Hill City and Stockton Subareas stabilized the area to reopen it to one-lane traffic. KDOT’s bridge inspection staff then began assessing the scope of the damage. The road was partially reopened in mid-June and plans were already underway by KDOT design staff for a complete bridge replacement project.

Crews work to repair the bridge.

Work on the bridge replacement began at the end of July. The contractor was able to immediately mobilize following the contract agreement and finished work two weeks earlier than the required completion date. Hays Area Construction Engineer Nick Rogers said safety and weather concerns played a role in expediting the project.

U.S. 24 Bridge in Graham County

“We had some safety concerns with the possibility of having one-lane traffic through the area, especially during the winter months,” Rogers said. “Also, the chance additional precipitation events could have caused further damage, so we wanted to get a plan in place and repairs underway as soon as possible.”

The U.S. 24  Bridge in Graham County is now open to traffic.
Even though the road was closed during the busy summer travel and harvest season, Rogers said the locals were understanding of the situation.

“The county and local residents were really supportive and understanding that this was an entirely unanticipated situation,” Rogers said. “We really appreciated their patience.”

King Construction Company was the primary contractor for the project with a total contract cost of approximately $559,000.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving from KDOT

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! All offices will be closed during Thanksgiving Day and Nov. 23. Drive safe, buckle up and remember to check for road conditions!

KDOT photo contest winners announced

The Kansas Department of Transportation releases the print copy of its annual report each January and the upcoming issue will feature two incredible photos on the front and back covers.

Lorraine D. Palmer's winning entry of K-14 in Lincoln County will be featured on the cover of the next annual report.  

KDOT received more than 70 entries from across the state. The first-place winner is Lorraine Palmer, who sent in a photo of K-14 in Lincoln County, and it will be featured on the front cover.

“I am a transplant that has been here for 34 years,” Palmer said. “Kansas is a beautiful place and I love photographing its many colors, moods and seasons.”
Palmer said this is the first photography contest she has won.

“It’s very special to me,” Palmer said. “This photo is one of my favorite locations that really shows the vast beauty of Kansas. I always get comments on the surprising beauty from friends and family that do not live here.”

Linda Hamlin's photo of a foggy morning on a Kansas highway took second place and will be featured on the back cover of the next annual report. 

The second-place photo was taken by Linda Hamlin and it depicts a foggy morning on a Kansas highway. It will be featured on the back cover of the annual report.

This year’s photo contest was judged by a panel of professional photographers and KDOT officials.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

First public involvement meeting on K-10 expansion held

An aerial view of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Study for the South Lawrence Trafficway

Approximately 250 interested citizens and stakeholders attended the first of a series of public involvement opportunities set to be held throughout the Supplemental Environmental Impact Study period for the South Lawrence Trafficway.

The public meeting held November 14 focused on the existing conditions of the K-10 corridor and gathering input from the public on the project goals. 

The study underway will examine the benefits and impacts of improving the west leg of the South Lawrence Trafficway from just north of I-70 at N. 1800 Road to just east of the 23rd Street interchange.  The public is being asked to participate in the process of selecting the preferred alternative and identifying proposed funding options.

Traffic volumes, delays and crashes have increased on the west portion of the trafficway since the east portion was opened in 2016.  The proposed project is needed to reduce congestion, enhance safety, promote a multi-modal transportation system and support local
and regional growth.

A member of the public places a green sticker on the aerial map. Attendees could place colored dots on that map to express their concerns about the various areas along the SLT. 

Preliminary design estimates for upgrading the corridor to a freeway and widening the highway to four lanes with grade separated interchanges is as much as $300 million.  There is currently no funding set aside for the project, and KDOT is exploring a variety of revenue sources to expand the system.

The public involvement process establishes multiple opportunities for the public to engage with KDOT to get information, provide input and participate in the process of selecting the project that is consistent with the city’s and the county’s long-term growth and development plans.

As part of the study process, a project website has been established for the public to provide comments, request community presentations and view project materials. For more information on the project and the study process go to
The next public meeting is planned for early 2019. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Traveling for Thanksgiving? Prepare for emergencies

Even our crews are prepared for emergencies here are some items they keep on hand as they travel. 

Many of us are planning a busy week of travel to our Thanksgiving holiday destinations. Before you hit the road, it is important to keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance to help prevent a breakdown. recommends you or a mechanic check the following on your vehicle:

  • Antifreeze levels
  • Battery and ignition system
  • Brakes
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel and air filters
  • Heater and defroster
  • Lights and flashing hazard lights
  • Oil
  • Thermostat
  • Windshield wiper equipment and washer fluid level

Even if you have done all the necessary maintenance checks, unexpected situations still happen. Are you prepared if your car breaks down on the side of the road during a snow storm, or if you slide off into a ditch?

Having an emergency kit with the right items and tools can keep you and your passengers safe and as comfortable as possible until help arrives. It is also important to remember that not every emergency kit is built the same, so tailor it to the condition of your vehicle and the weather conditions in the areas where you travel.

The emergency kit in your vehicle should be checked every six months and expired items should be replaced as needed. Here are some items to have:
  • First aid kit with bandages in multiple sizes, gauze, tape, antibiotic cream, over-the-counter pain relievers, allergy medicine, hand sanitizer and cotton swabs
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Drinking water
  • Warm clothing or blankets
  • Non-perishable snacks such as nuts
  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Multi-purpose tool and/or tool kit
  • Road flares
  • Car charger for your cell phone which should have family and emergency phone numbers

In addition to preparing your vehicle, you can increase your chances of making it safely to the table by driving sober, wearing your seat belt, following the speed limit and focusing on the road ahead. As always, remember to check road conditions before you leave at

Thursday, November 15, 2018

National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week

Each year, hundreds of emergency responders representing fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, towing and transportation agencies are struck and either injured or killed while responding.

This week is National Traffic Incident Response Awareness Week, which is a national campaign that raises awareness on improving safety for all these workers along the roadways.

A photo of a scene captured by a WICHway camera located on K-96 from Nov. 1, 2018. 

Every minute of every day, emergency responders across the country work to help save lives at the scene of traffic incidents.

As drivers, we are all responsible for using extra caution when approaching and passing a traffic incident work area. While it may seem like an inconvenience and a travel delay, it is imperative that we protect those involved in the crash and the emergency responders whose job it is to help others at the scene.

More than 4,000 first responders from across Kansas and millions from across the nation have been trained through the Traffic Incident Management program. It created by the Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Institute.

KDOT crews attended Traffic Incident Management training in Wichita.  

The training shares best practices in responding to, processing and removing traffic incidents as safely and quickly as possible. It is a planned and coordinated effort with goals to improve incident scene safety, inform other drivers of the situation, prevent secondary crashes resulting from congested traffic and return traffic flow to normal.

Graphic source:

Millions of responders are working on the roadway at traffic incident scenes, every day, around the clock. Millions more motorists are passing near or through that incident work area. Looking out for one another is everybody’s responsibility.

Help us raise awareness of the dangers that emergency responders face during traffic incidents. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Joint Legislative Transportation Vision Task Force – Olathe and Manhattan meetings

Preservation Needs, Funding Methods and Economic Development – The final regional stakeholder meetings took place on Nov. 8 and 9 in Olathe and Manhattan. The presentations covered a variety of topics — including declining pavement health and the need to fund preservation, the economic impact of transportation and KDOT initiatives and innovations. KDOT also shared information on how projects are prioritized and selected. 

Paula Gough, District Engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Northeast District, presented case studies on Transportation Development Districts and other cost-share programs that are used to address transportation needs in Missouri communities. Additionally, Suzanne Loomis, City Engineer and Director of Public Works for the City of Newton, presented information on local roads and the transportation needs of cities in Kansas. Presentations from the meetings can be found here.

Local Testimony Consistent with Themes from Across Meetings – During public testimony, many key themes from previous meetings continued.  At the meeting in Olathe, we heard about the critical role transportation plays in encouraging economic development in Johnson County.  We heard about the need for the expansion of U. S. 69 in Overland Park as well as expansion of other corridors in Olathe and Lenexa.  Other stakeholders also shared the importance of safety improvements and the need for improved bike and pedestrian facilities. 

In Manhattan, numerous stakeholders provided testimony on the need for improved safety on K-177, a vital connection for Manhattan and nearby communities. We also heard about improvements needed for K-31. Stakeholders and local community officials also discussed transportation as an economic driver and the importance of bicycle and pedestrian facilities as connectors to the overall transportation system.

Task Force Recommendations.  The next step in this process is for Task Force members to meet, discuss the information that was shared during the regional meetings and develop recommendations for the next Kansas transportation program.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Movie magic: KDOT produces training video

Most of us aren’t thinking about snow and ice in August, but that’s what several KDOT employees had on their minds last summer as they filmed an educational video.

Retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua, left, and Equipment Mechanic Senior Steve Schmidt mix brine.
August was pretty warm for making brine, but to help future KDOT employees learn how to do it, that’s exactly what Field Maintenance Manager Jim Frye had a crew do at the North/East Complex in Wichita.
Frye oversaw a training video about how to make salt brine. The video, when completed, will be featured on the Bureau of Maintenance’s page on KDOT’s intranet as part of employee training. Frye said recently that he thinks the video will be available soon to employees.

Retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua loads salt to mix brine.

Bret Mathias, Media Production Technician in Support Services, shot the video with retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua, who worked in Wichita, and Equipment Mechanic Senior Steve Schmidt, who works in Salina.

Retired Equipment Operator Specialist Miguel Padua overlooks the machine that mixes brine. 

Padua and Schmidt made brine on camera to teach others the proper techniques to do so.
“This is something we have wanted to do for a while,” Frye said of this particular training video.
KDOT spends a lot of time training new Equipment Operator Trainees.

Districts across the state also offer “snowfighter training” to new crew members to help them learn the ins and outs of pre-treating and plowing roads.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Winter weather driving tips

Snow is falling across parts of the state. Here are a few winter weather driving tips for everyone to keep in mind. Be ready for rapidly changing road conditions and adjust your driving for the weather around your vehicle. 

Remember — for consistently-updated road conditions, check

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Bank stabilization repair one of many approved October projects

Construction on the Ninnescah Riverbank in Summer 2017 was the first phase of this erosion prevention project. 

The second phase of an emergency repair project near the Ninnescah River in Sumner County was one of more than 50 project bids approved in the Oct. 17 letting. This emergency repair project will help protect the area from flooding.

In 1986, a project was designed to reconstruct the Ninnescah riverbank to help reduce erosion in this area. The project included the installation of 15 steel pile jetties to assist with erosion prevention. Of the 15 jetties installed, six of them were later found to be slanted and all of them showed significant corrosion. In fact, comparing satellite pictures from 2002 and 2017, demonstrates the bank was still displaying signs of erosion even though jetties were in place.  

In September 2016 massive rainfall amounts caused the Ninnescah River to swell and flood U.S. 81 and K-55. KDOT saw a need to address this area. In mid-2017, the first emergency repair phase took place. That project focused on the area right along the highway where the highest chance of a slide could take place if another significant flood were to happen. Rock was placed to armor the toe of the slope, followed by a bed, filter and an additional stone layer to reconstruct and armor the bank.

The second phase of the emergency repair will focus on the remaining jetties that are not immediately adjacent to the highway. This phase will also include a significant amount of stone to be placed to armor the toe of the slope. Instead of just relying solely on rock, KDOT will plant willow trees, which will create root systems to give the slope a living protection against erosion.

Dondlinger & Sons Construction Co., INC., of Wichita is the contractor working on the $879,046.25 project.

To see the various stages of this project, click here.
To read more about the other approved projects, click here.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stay safe and warm: Coats and car seats are a dangerous combination

Cold weather has arrived across the state and with the falling temps, everyone is reaching for their coats for warmth and protection from the elements.

When it comes to bundling children up for a car ride, extra caution needs to be considered for any child who uses a car seat. That bulky coat, which was meant to protect them from the cold, could actually put their life at risk inside the car seat.

As a rule, coats shouldn’t be worn under a safety harness. They take up too much room and can allow for extra space between the child’s body and the safety restraint system of the seat. Use the graphic below for some suggestions for how your child can stay safe and warm while traveling.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Kandrive: There's a hack for that

One of KDOT’s year-round customer service products to help drivers plan their travel is, which automatically and continuously updates closures, construction and traffic-impacting incidents on interstates, highways and Kansas routes.  But during the winter, with a flurry of information coming from various sources and rapidly changing conditions, drivers often forget KanDrive is still the most accurate and timely source for road condition information.

“KanDrive is KDOT’s traveler information gateway for Kansas and surrounding states,” said Kevin Hennes, KDOT Applications Developer. “It provides an interactive map of Kansas roads, work zones and the ability to view highway cameras to see surface-related road conditions in real time on computer and mobile devices.”

While road condition updates are often posted on KDOT’s social media pages, they are not updated around the clock. KanDrive is the official source of highway travel information in Kansas and it has the most current and complete source of road condition information available. The application is fed by several electronic sources from across the state and it updates in real time.

“Please do not tweet, email or message KDOT when you need timely information on road closures, we cannot answer calls or emails around the clock, even during storms,” said Laurie Arellano, KDOT Communications Director.  “By the time we are able to respond to your message, conditions may have changed significantly.”

Drivers can check KanDrive anytime from a computer or a phone and get the same information, although they may look different.  For those who rely primarily on their mobile devices, take a tour of the mobile-friendly version in this blog to find the quickest way to get road condition information.

Use your device to get to the Internet and type in to arrive at the home screen.

Select view the roads.  KanDrive has four options to show  road conditions: Seasonal, partially covered, completely covered and closed.  Road condition information on this page is a broader picture of weather conditions in the state.

Seasonal means the roads are normal for that time of year.  Patchy slick spots after a frost are seasonal, lightly blowing snow following a snowfall is also seasonal, as are wet roads following rain. 

Partially covered means there are large patches of road covered by snow which will require drivers to slow down. 

Completely covered means roadway surfaces are not visible due to heavy snow. 
Closed roads means that the road conditions no longer safe for travel and it is against the law to go around road closure gate signs.

Now, for more localized travel information, click the back arrow in the top left corner.

On this page you’ll access more specific information about the highway or interstate you’re concerned about.  Select any of the options for more specific information to get local conditions.

Or select cameras and signs to see what conditions look like in real time.

Hennes says it’s important during changing weather conditions to check conditions frequently before planning to travel.

“It is always best to know before you go.”

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Daylight saving ends: Safety tips for traveling in the dark

This weekend, most of the country’s clocks “fall back” as daylight saving time ends and clocks return to standard time.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) the end of daylight saving time means that more people will be driving home in the dark and extra caution is required.

As you continue to adjust to the time change this week, keep in mind these driving safety tips from AAA:
  • Watch for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots or driveways. The darker evening hours can make these individuals harder to see!  
  • Always yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks and never pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.
  • Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible.
  • Increase your following distance, especially if you are traveling into the sun. Those bright rays can make it hard to see what the car ahead of you is doing!
  • Make sure you can see through your windshield, windows and mirrors and your car is able to defrost your windshield during these cooler months.

Pedestrians, there are steps that you can take to help yourself stay safe if you walk at night:
  • When available, use the crosswalks and never cross the street when a car is approaching.
  • Look left, then right, then left again before crossing — even at crosswalks.
  • Stay focused on the road ahead, don’t walk distracted.  Put that phone away until you reach your destination.
  • Be on the lookout for cars — especially distracted drivers.
  • Be bright at night! Bring a flashlight and wear reflective gear so that drivers will be able to see you.  Avoid wearing darker colors.

Following these steps could make traveling easier and safer.  There are possibilities that you could be driving when the sun is on the horizon, check out this blog for some tips on how to drive in those conditions.