Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Adventure awaits! Are you summer travel ready?

By Lisa Mussman
Public Affairs Manager for northwest Kansas 

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and the summer travel season. The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts nearly 43 million Americans will kick off their summer with a holiday getaway with most of them, 37.6 million, traveling by car.

Just like winter, summer weather conditions should be taken into consideration when preparing your vehicle and emergency kit for travel. AAA shares the following summer driving safety tips:


Prepping your car

  • Check the tread depth, inflation and overall condition of all your vehicle’s tires (including the spare) at the start of every season. Tread depth can be checked by placing a quarter in the tread with Washington’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head, it might be time for new tires.
  • Check and clean battery terminals. Consider having the battery tested if it is more than three years old.
  • Flush your car’s cooling system on a regular basis and make sure coolant levels are topped off. If your car does overheat, do not remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled down.
  • Replace windshield wipers and wiper fluid if needed. Also check transmission and power steering fluids, and ensure brake lights, headlights, turn signals, emergency flashers and interior lights are working.


In case of emergency…
If you already have an emergency kit from winter, now is a good time to do a quick inventory and replace items as needed. If you don’t have a kit, here are some suggested contents:


  • Cell phone and charger
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Flares and a white flag
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
  • Work gloves and a change of clothes
  • Basic repair tools and duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak)
  • Water and paper towels, or baby wipes for cleaning up
  • Nonperishable food, drinking water and medicines
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • Maps
  • Emergency blankets, towels and coats


Ready, set, go!

Now that your car is ready to hit the road, make sure you’re ready too! When planning your route, check out kandrive.org for construction projects that may affect your trip if traveling in Kansas. Once you’re on the road, try to keep distractions to a minimum. If you must make a call or send a text, find a safe place to pull over; never text and drive! Also, be sure to get plenty of rest before your trip to avoid drowsy driving.

And most importantly, buckle up! Here’s to a great summer of adventures!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Run for the Wall stops in Kansas


Several hundred motorcyclists make their way across the country during the
Run for the Wall event. 
Several hundred motorcyclists moved through Kansas yesterday during the 31st annual Run for the Wall event, which began in Ontario, Calif., last week. They ride for those who can’t and recognize the sacrifices and contributions of veterans who served our nation.

The ride is designed to help veterans and their loved ones heal. It also serves as a reminder to account for all prisoners of war and those who are missing in action. The ride honors the memories of those killed in all wars and supports military members all over the world.

The riders will complete their journey when they reach the Vietnam Memorial on May 27. Motorcyclists were hosted by Kansas Turnpike Authority, KDOT, the Kansas ABATE chapter and the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs at the Topeka Service Area.

After an overnight stop in Junction City, the group was provided with free gas and water by the KTA and Topeka Service Area.

According to the Run for the Wall website, the ride began in 1989 and was started by two Vietnam Veterans, James Gregory and Bill Evans, who raised awareness about the thousands of men and women who are still unaccounted for from all wars.

“We don’t give political speeches or stage demonstrations,” the website said. “RFTW gets its message to the public by riding coast to coast across the United States.”

Motorcyclists stop at the Topeka Service Area, and were provided with free water and gas by the KTA.

The event consists of three different routes. Each route will come together at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the Run for the Wall officially ends.  Along the way, riders can stop at various memorials, veteran’s hospitals, schools and parades. 

Riders leave the Topeka Service Area and make their way to their next stop.  

Monday, May 20, 2019

Click It. Or Ticket. Law enforcement on the lookout for unrestrained drivers, passengers




TOPEKA, Kan. — Law enforcement agencies across Kansas will be taking a no-excuses approach to saving lives around this Memorial Day weekend. Tickets will be issued to unbuckled occupants as a harsh reminder of the importance of seat belt use at all times.

More than 50 percent of traffic fatalities in Kansas in 2017 were unrestrained. Many of these individuals could have survived the car crash if they had only worn their seat belt. That’s why law enforcement across the state is stepping up enforcement with the Click It. Or Ticket. campaign that runs May 20 through June 2.

“The Click it. Or ticket. campaign isn’t about issuing citations, it’s about saving lives,” said Technical Trooper Ben Gardner, of the Kansas Highway Patrol “Too many people die in motor vehicle crashes who could have survived if they had only buckled up.”

It is prohibited to drive or ride as a passenger in a motor vehicle without wearing a seat belt for a good reason. In 2017, 53 percent of the 316 deaths from automobile crashes in Kansas were not buckled. Pick-up truck drivers, young adults and males are among some of the worst offenders and most at-risk.

“Frustratingly, there are still people out there who do not take that extra second to buckle up,” said Chris Bortz, KDOT Traffic Safety Program Manager. “Any adult not wearing their seat belt could be issued a $30 traffic citation. Make a better decision and buckle up, every trip, every time.”

In 2018, the Kansas observed seat belt usage was 84 percent, below the national average of 90 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Education coupled with enforcement can raise this rate and ultimately save lives.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Guest Blog: Gravel rocks! Biking on gravel leads to adventure

Riding bikes on gravel roads is becoming a popular way to travel. Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris
By Tiffany Burris, 
Founder and Head Coach at DarkEarly Racing LLC 

I started cycling as part of the triathlon sport. Back then, I just saw the bike as a way to get from the swim to the run. In order to up my triathlon game I turned to my local bike shop, Santa Fe Trails Bicycle and Coffee Shop, in Leavenworth and they encouraged me to enter some local road races and join them on some group rides. I had fun and my eyes were opened to a new world, a subculture I had no idea even existed. 
Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris

It was in the spring, when some of the group rides took to the gravel in the hills of Leavenworth County when I lost my heart to those white rock, wash boarded, cursing under your breath but beautiful backroads. Years, miles and a whole fleet of bikes later I’m still hooked and share the gravel gospel with anyone who will listen.

The Dirt Road Debutante Gravel Academy was an Idea that came to me in a place I never thought I would find myself. I was competing in The Win For KC women’s triathlon. 

I was awestruck at how many ladies had entered this event. I spoke with several competitors and the general feeling was that events like this were lower stress and less pressure. During the cycling portion of the race I found myself doing something unheard of in triathlon. I saw a racer on the side of the road struggling with a derailed chain. I pulled over to help her to get it back on and got her back in the race. This is the very moment I decided how I can serve my true passion of gravel cycling and bring women into this community. 

In the world of gravel cycling this act of kindness is the norm, sure there are lots of fast racers that go out hard and play to win, but the vast majority just want to cover the distance, push themselves, have fun and collect stories and memories.

The Dirt Road Debutante Gravel Academy is my best effort to provide an all-inclusive gravel cycling experience aimed at beginner to intermediate lady riders. The clinic will empower women with the skills, knowledge, and tools to be confident on gravel and enter this cycling community.


Gravel riders on the Katy Trail in Atchison. 
Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris

The Clinic Info

I have picked some of the best and nicest local female cyclist in Kansas City, Karen Pritchard, Catherine Walberg and Jen Barr, to teach the ladies how to ride gravel with confidence.  They will cover techniques and gravel related topics in class. Some of the topics will include: Tire pressure and type, clips vs flat pedals, how to pack enough water for the ride, what to wear, how to position yourself on the bike for the given terrain and a lot more. Then they will head out on the road to practice what they have learned, under the watchful eye of the pros. 

I have paired with my local bicycle shop, Sante Fe Trails Bicycle and Coffee Shop – where the clinic will be held, to cover bicycle maintenance and common roadside repairs and to do a lactic acid threshold test for those wanting to really train to become better and stronger.  
Riders will have the opportunity to learn about hydration, nutrition, calorie consumption and recovery from Candice McField, a local nutritionist.

A local bicycle safety advocate, Bob Vervecke, will teach the ladies about basic bicycle safety, how to be seen, and to give them information on the different technologies available to protect oneself and to alert family if something happens.

I will cover topics related to training, incorporating a family into your training, ways to sneak it in, goal setting and planning a race/event schedule.


Gravel riders on the Katy Trail in Atchison.
Photo Courtesy: Tiffany Burris

The clinic is made possible by the local and corporate support.  I am not the only one that would like to see more women cyclists.  It is a common discussion around the cycling community but has remained a mystery as to how to make it happen.  It is my belief that many women would like cycling if they knew how to juggle it with all the demands they already have.  

I think women believe they need to be their best or it is not worth doing.  I think you can be your best when you challenge yourself, accept that your best today is different than your best will be later in life. With different life circumstances and understanding, people need to see gravel cycling is about the ride and not the finish line.  Finding a close-knit group is part of the experience and will help get you out of the door on the tough days.  

Making time for yourself, improving your health and seeing things from a new view is often all it takes to have a better outlook on life.

For more information check out www.darkearly.com 

KDOT note: Check back in June for another blog about how gravel riding is having an impact on Kansas communities! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

KDOT’s “Infant at Work” program reaches important milestone


By Mallory Goeke
KDOT Communications Specialist 

Bringing a child to work may not be the first thing that comes to mind when a new baby is born, but for KDOT employees, this is an option they have for the first 150 days of their child’s life. 

KDOT began participating in the “Infant at Work” program in 2001. At that time, it was only a pilot project that was under evaluation to determine if it would be feasible to continue.
There are several steps and conditions parents must agree to before their child can come to work.

According to KDOT’s Policy, only parents or grandparents of the child may bring the infant to work. The infant must stay in their parent’s work area for the workday. There must be at least two other KDOT employees who can volunteer to help take over in case the parent has a meeting. 

To help support parents, there are sitting rooms available when babies need to be fed or soothed.
Time Flies! Kelly Broxterman and her twins were the first to participate in the Infants at Work program at KDOT in 2001.

Kelly Broxterman, KDOT’s Grant and Fiscal Coordinator, and her twin sons, Colton and Justin, were the first participants in the program.  In an article from a 2001 issue of the agency’s newsletter, Translines, Broxterman said that she thought the program was a positive experience and provided important information to help build the program.

 Eighteen years later, an additional 114 babies have been able to start their lives out at work with their parents. Justin and Colton are now graduating high school!

Justin and Colton Broxterman were the first babies to participate in the Infant at work program.
They are now graduating high school this weekend.
In retrospect, Broxterman said that the program was a great way to balance work and family. 

“It gave me the ability to return to work quicker and the opportunity to spend time bonding with the boys,” Broxterman said. “As a new parent at the time, having the boys go to work with me was very comforting. They slept quite a bit every day, so I was able to get my work done but could look over and see they were okay.”

KDOT’s Bureau Chief of Personal Services, Denise Schwab said that a lot has changed since the program’s inception. 

“More people are interested now,” Schwab said.  “More senior managers and supervisors are more comfortable with the program and there are more mothers and fathers who are interested. I think it’s really cool that fathers are involved, they often split duties with their spouse.”

Schwab said that in the early development of the program, there was a bit of anxiety that having infants at work would interrupt work flow, but as time has gone by attitudes are changing. Schwab said that hearing the happy sounds that a baby makes can increase office morale.

“There’s a real human side to having an infant at work,” Schwab said. “They bring a lot of joy to the office place, and they are fun to have around.”

There are mutual benefits for both KDOT and the employees who participate in the program.

“One of the positive feedbacks that we receive is how much quicker employees can come back to work,” Schwab said. “Instead of having a vacant seat they are able to come back sooner and be productive.”

According to Schwab there are only a handful of other state DOTs that allow infants in the workplace. She said she has been able to use KDOT as an example when she discusses this program with other agencies.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Share the road: May is Bicycle and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month



May is Bicycle and Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and more and more, Americans see walking, running and bicycling as a cost effective, healthy and convenient way to travel. Recognizing this, some communities have become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly by adding bicycle lanes and trails to their infrastructure.  However, this is not possible in every community, making it necessary for motorists and cyclists to share the road.  

With the arrival of warmer weather, here are some tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for drivers to help keep everyone as safe as possible on the roads.

1. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities to the road as drivers.

2. Treat bicyclists as you would other drivers and be as aware of them in traffic as you are of vehicles.

3. Pass bicyclists as you would vehicles – pass on the left and only when it’s safe to move over into an adjacent lane.  Give them room and don’t pass too closely. Kansas law requires motorists to give bicyclists three feet of space at all times. 

4. Drive defensively. Check your blind spots for bicyclists and pay special attention at stop signs and cross walks.  Before making a right-hand turn, make sure a bicyclist isn’t approaching from the right rear of your vehicle.  Look left, then right and left again. Remember to check behind you as well. 

In addition to recreational bicyclists, Kansas welcomes several cycling events each year including the Great TransAmerica Race, Race Across America, Bike Across Kansas, The Dirty Kanza and other events which will bring hundreds of local, national and international riders to our cities and towns this summer.  

Remember to ditch the distractions and share the road.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Rain, rain go away: Highways in Kansas impacted by flooding


“Rain, rain go away, come again another day,” may be the tune that Kansans hum to themselves as they look at the weather forecast this week.  Parts of the Sunflower State haven’t seen the sun for what seems like days.
Flood waters cover K-4 in Saline County.

With all that rain comes the added risk of flooded roads and highways, and many have experienced this reality already. Today several highways in Kansas, including I-35 south of Wichita are closed.

Driving across flooded roads can be dangerous and there are many reasons for that. Check out this photo from last year when flooded waters washed parts of U.S. 24 away leaving a giant hole. Driving over that could have resulted in tragedy.

Last year flood waters damaged U.S. 24 in Graham County.

Just six inches of water can cause damage to your vehicle? According to SmartDriving.co.uk, water at this level can be sucked into your exhaust system and cause  serious issues for your vehicle.

Trees branches rest on K-98 in Meade County after powerful rushing waters carried them into the roadway. 

Six inches of water can cause your vehicle to lose traction, and 12 inches of water is enough to turn your vehicle in a boat, which it was never designed to be. Water can damage your engine and leave you with an expensive repair bill, or force you to buy a new vehicle.

The best way to stay safe during flood events is to be prepared. Watch the forecast ahead of time to make sure you won’t be encountering severe weather or torrential rainfall. Of course, flash floods can happen without warning. If you encounter a covered roadway, turn around, don’t drown. Never try to drive through it, it could result in the loss of your vehicle or even your life.

Earlier this year, flood waters caused flooding in northeast Kansas near White Cloud. 

For updated road conditions, check the construction tab on www.kandrive.org and pay attention to the weather forecast! More rain is expected today. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

On the lookout: KDOT workers have each other’s back

Equipment Operator Senior Rocky Lindgren from Salina, flags traffic in an active work zone. 


Whether a KDOT employee has worked on the highway for one day or 40 years, work zone safety is a top priority and a team effort. 

Equipment Operators at KDOT say they are constantly looking over their shoulders watching for traffic and guarding their safety while working on the roads. Terry Shank, Equipment Operator Senior in Salina, explained how crucial it is that they pay attention to traffic and don’t lose focus, or they could get hurt. 

“When you flag, you take turns with other workers to prevent fatigue,” said Rocky Lindgren, Equipment Operator Senior in Salina. “This prevents mental fatigue and loss of focus while on the job.”

Do you ever approach a work zone and wonder why so many trucks are needed? 

The trucks following a spray patch operation drive over the patches to pack in the loose gravel but that’s only one of the reasons they are there — they also help keep workers safe.
“Trucks are there to alert traffic of a work zone and to make sure traffic gets over in time, so workers can remain safe,” said Kort St. Clair, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in McPherson. “If the operators in the trucks notice something of concern they can warn their coworkers ahead of time.”

Crews in north central Kansas fill potholes using the spray patching technique.
“We look out for one another,” said Tim Frederiksen, Equipment Operator in Salina. “We watch to make sure someone doesn’t step too far over into the traffic while working and they do the same for us."

It is imperative that traffic move over to allow workers the room they need while working.  KDOT workers want to go home safe and they want the same for their coworkers.

KDOT employees ask that all drivers put away distractions, slow down and pay attention while driving through work zones. One mistake could cost them their life. That phone call or text can wait. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

KDOT announces Kansas airport improvement projects




Topeka – Forty-one projects totaling a combined award of $5 million have been granted for the 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. In addition, 94 percent of the state’s population is within 30 minutes of air ambulance operations.

“We are proud of the collaboration between our department and airport sponsors to increase safety, enhance economic development and support the transportation needs of Kansans,” said Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz.

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 119 project applications this year with a combined total value of more than $29 million. 

“KAIP has not only funded key improvements at local airports, it has helped create a statewide aviation network that enhances both the health and economic wellbeing of the entire state,” said Bob Brock, KDOT Director of Aviation.  

Communities selected for funding and the amount requested include:
Anthony – Airports Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) survey and flight check – $52,250
Atchison – Surface seal of runway – $56,925
Atwood – Update fuel card reader – $17,000
Augusta – Reconstruct apron access to community hangar – $76,500
Beloit – Airfield maintenance equipment – $16,250
Benton – 17/35 runway preservation – $321,867
Elkhart – Airports Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) Study – $76,000
Emporia – 1/19 runway sealcoat and preservation –$411,500
Fort Scott – Airports Geographic Information Systems (AGIS) updates and runway extension design – $152,000
Gardner – 8/26 runway/apron/taxilane pavement preservation – $90,000
Garnett – 1/19 runway seal and repair high severity cracks – $40,500
Hiawatha – 10/28 runway edge lighting design – $19,000; 17/35 runway edge lighting design – $19,000; taxilane renovation design and construction – $61,890
Hoxie – Phase II: runway rehab – $303,440
Independence – South apron runup area renovation – $721,500; fuel systems – $36,335
Kingman – Precision approach path indicator (PAPI) replacement – $182,963
Kinsley – construct tiedowns – $10,949
La Crosse – Operations support equipment – $45,000
Lakin – Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) III – $176,250; 14/32 runway mill and overlay design and construction – $303,250
Liberal – Runway marking removal and replacement – $248,500
Oberlin – Height and hazard survey – $38,000
Ottawa – Pavement preservation on parallel and connection taxiway system – $173,250
Pittsburg –Replace Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) ceilometer –$43,200; remove obstructing trees – $18,000
Quinter – Install Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) III – $135,000
Rose Hill – Crack seal– $16,200; upgrade fuel credit card terminal – $14,875; mill and overlay runway 17/35 – $174,600
Salina – Phase II: ramp reconstruction – $720,000
St. Francis – Extend SE taxiway – $133,200

Monday, April 29, 2019

This severe weather season, use common sense: Storm Fury on the Plains classes held across the state


Wichita National Weather Service Meteorologist Chance Hayes presents information during a recent ‘Storm Fury on the Plains’ session. KDOT staff from the Southeast District Office attended this session for the general public, which took place at Independence.

By Priscilla Petersen, Public Affairs Manager, Southeast Kansas 

In advance of this year’s severe storm season, the National Weather Service of Wichita presented a series of seminars titled “Storm Fury on the Plains” in cities throughout the state. Open to the public, the Storm Fury seminars focused on building partnerships, improving communication and promoting greater trust between members of the public and the agency.

“Don’t be afraid to call us,” meteorologist Chance Hayes told the almost 40 people attending an early April session in Independence. Hayes encouraged continual public reporting of severe weather events, either by calling NWS directly or by sending Tweets with the hashtag #kswx. If it’s safe, he added, take a photo and share it in a Tweet. “We’re a team. It takes a full team effort to improve.”

During the year 2018, Hayes said, Kansas experienced: a total of 297 severe storms with high winds, hail and flooding; 20 tornadoes that touched down; a four-inch hailstone that fell in Barton County; and 87 mile-per-hour straight line winds in Rice County.

An EF-3 tornado moved through the city of Eureka last spring and damaged homes and buildings at the KDOT subarea office. 

He discussed all aspects of the EF-3 tornado that moved through the city of Eureka without warning last June 26. Hayes described the differences between what was showing up on NWS radar and the views shared by local spotters on the ground. He emphasized that radar can’t pick everything up as well as the human eye. “Let us know …” if the conditions you see are different from those on the radar, he said. “Your eyes are just as important as the radar.”

Hayes also discussed storm spotting basics, describing inflow and outflow regions and types of storms. He gave an overview of storm features such as squall lines, shelf clouds and supercells. If it’s looking stormy, he told the group, “always check your surroundings” and weigh the potential risks before traveling. Study the cloud formations and the smartphone weather radar. “Observe the storm,” he said, and consider whether to take a break and let the storm pass instead of driving into it. Hayes also encouraged the group to download free weather radar applications to their phones. “Use it to stay safe,” he cautioned.

Touching briefly on flood safety tips, Hayes said water flowing at four miles-per-hour can exert a force comparable to an EF-2 tornado. In the event of severe weather, he stressed that people should be prepared, act quickly and seek shelter. He suggested that those staying at local storm shelters keep whistles handy so that relatives and friends could find each other in crowded conditions. “Use common sense,” Hayes concluded.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Check this out: The Big Kansas Roadtrip features northwest corner of the state



By Lisa Mussman, Northwest Kansas Public Affairs Manager 

It’s time to hit the road to northwest Kansas for the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s second annual Big Kansas Road Trip the weekend of May 2-5.

Cheyenne, Wallace and Sherman counties are this year’s featured destinations for the event, which was created to be an active, fun way to bring people together to explore the state, and to make an economic and social difference in the showcase counties.

 Participants choose where to go and what they want to see over the course of the weekend, as there is no organized tour. The event serves as somewhat of an open house for each county to offer up what travelers can see, do, hear, taste, buy and learn in their communities.

Highlights of the weekend will include self-guided tours of the Arikaree Breaks in Cheyenne County, a lemonade contest and lawn croquet at the historic Ennis-Handy house in Goodland, Michael Martin Murphy performances at the Fort Wallace Museum in Wallace and a poker run through all three counties along the Land and Sky Scenic Byway. A complete list of events and attractions can be found on the Big Kansas Road Trip website at www.bigkansasroadtrip.com.

Some tips and reminders to keep in mind during this year’s road trip:

  • Pack a lawn chair
  • Restaurants will serve until the food is gone
  • Grocery stores are located in each of the county seats (St. Francis, Goodland and Sharon Springs) and in Bird City.
  • Not every town has gas stations, so gas up whenever you can
  • When crossing cattle guards, keep an eye out for cattle on the roads - they have the right of way!
  • It’s a courtesy to bring rolls of toilet paper and offer them to businesses that are opening their bathrooms.
  • MT or MDT is Mountain or Mountain Daylight Time; CT or CDT is Central or Central Daylight Time.


 And lastly, don’t forget your camera! Be sure to use the hashtag #BKRT19 when sharing photos on your favorite social media sites. You can also share on the Big Kansas Road Trip Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Road construction and detour technology innovations

KDOT crew members from Garden City installed a temporary detour sign for the
U.S. 50/83 bypass project earlier this year. 



Road construction season is here and those orange barrels and cones seem to be popping up everywhere. While some may be frustrated by this season, road construction is essential to effectively and efficiently maintain our highways. Thanks to technology and innovation, today’s drivers can navigate road construction and detours much easier than drivers in the past. 

For example, 50 years ago when a driver encountered a detour, the driver had two options— follow the detour signs and most likely arrive late to their destination or get out the paper map and find an alternate route.  Eventually, road construction, detour routes and traffic updates became available on the radio and in the newspaper, making it easier for drivers to anticipate detours and delays and choose an alternate route if possible. 

Drivers today can access detour information in many ways, making it possible to avoid road construction and detours altogether. This makes it easier to prepare for and navigate road construction and detours when necessary.  Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram give cities, counties and states the ability to communicate current information on road construction and detours to drivers with minimal delay, so that drivers can better plan their travel.

In addition, apps like Mapquest, Googlemaps and Waze provide a variety of tools including live traffic updates, road closure information and even alternate routes.

In metro areas, drivers will often find smart work zones that are designed to predict travel time and delays or speed through the construction zone in real time.  Alternate routes and travel times using those routes may also be predicted by allowing drivers to make informed decisions ahead of work zones. 

These smart zones help prevent driver frustration, encourage drivers to take alternate routes, reduce congestion and keep traffic flowing. They also help make work zones safer for both travelers and highway workers.

In addition, many state DOTs have their own websites and/or apps that provide detailed road construction and detour maps and current road conditions.  Kansas road conditions are available by visiting www.Kandrive.org. 

KDOT encourages drivers to take advantage of these and other technology and travel innovations. Remember to “know before you go,” in order to make travel as enjoyable and safe as possible during this road construction season.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Kansas Law Enforcement cracks down on drugged driving: Increased enforcement to take place over 420 weekend





TOPEKA, Kan. — According to a 2016 AAA poll in Kansas, only 63 percent of people consider driving after using marijuana ‘a very serious threat’ to their personal safety. In 2017, there were 287 crashes attributed to illegal drug use in Kansas.  Eighty-three persons lost their lives in these crashes.

“There’s a misconception that marijuana doesn’t affect your ability to drive,” said Chris Bortz, Traffic Safety Program Manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). “That is just false. Illegal drugs can impair a person’s judgment, concentration and reaction time. Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is illegal for a reason.”

There will be increased traffic enforcement and police visibility across the state to crack down on drugged driving. This enforcement will run from April 19-21, where 420 (April 20th) is largely recognized for its social attention on marijuana.

Law enforcement and prosecutors will also be enforcing a “No Refusal Weekend” in which all suspected impaired drivers who refuse a breath test may be subject to blood testing. Officers will be extra vigilant this weekend to detect all impaired drivers and consequently testing for both alcohol and drugs.

Marijuana laws are rapidly changing across the United States, including states bordering Kansas, leading to more drivers under the influence of marijuana. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2007-2014, there was a 48 percent increase in drivers testing positive for marijuana across the nation. These findings demonstrate the imminent danger on our roads and the importance of raising awareness of the risks of drug impaired driving.

“With this enforcement and our education efforts, we hope that 100 percent of Kansas drivers recognize and understand this serious issue,” said Mark A. Dupree, Wyandotte County District Attorney. “Driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous and deadly. We want people to arrive to their destinations safely, and that starts with smart decisions by both drivers and passengers.”

Drug impaired driving does lead to crashes, serious injury and even death. Kansans will see law enforcement agencies out in full force this weekend, pulling over drivers that exhibit signs of impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol.


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

It takes a brave person to do what they do: Move over for highway workers, law enforcement and emergency responders


By Ashley Tammen, 
North Central Kansas Public Affairs Manager

Earlier this week I had the privilege of going on a ride-along with Trooper Ben Gardner from the Kansas Highway Patrol. I was able to witness what highway workers, law enforcement and emergency personnel face every day while performing their job duties along the highways. I will say without hesitation - it takes a brave person to do what they do.

KHP Trooper Ben Gardner stops a motorist along
the side of the road. 
During our ride-along, Trooper Ben pulled over one motorist for speeding, but when he did, he stood only a few feet away from traveling vehicles. I witnessed a large tractor trailer fly by his left side on the Interstate as he was talking to the motorist through the driver’s side window. The semi must have been traveling at least 70 miles per hour and it did not slow down.

I could tell by Trooper Ben’s reaction that he has experienced this several times and was used to vehicles not moving over. When I told Trooper Ben that I couldn’t believe how close the semi was to him he just shrugged and said, “Yeah, I know.” He then got back in his patrol vehicle, buckled up and went on with his day.

Watching the semi skim by him was a scary feeling for me to watch. I can’t even begin to imagine what our troopers are feeling when they feel the momentum of a vehicle right next to them.

Last week was National Work Zone Awareness Week and numerous transportation-related agencies worked together to help raise awareness of the need for safety for those working along the highways. It was a focused time to promote work zone safety, but it needs to be a priority for motorists all year long. I saw firsthand what all the people who work along the highways see all too frequently – lives are on the line in work zones.

I stress and urge motorists to move over when they see a trooper or anyone on the side of the road. If you can’t get over right away, be patient and slow down so you can get over safely. Do your part while driving to keep our troopers safe because they work to keep us safe.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Acts of kindness: KDOT crews assist travelers in need of help

Acts of kindness at KDOT is not uncommon and it does not go unnoticed. Many employees have earned the upmost respect from their surrounding community by lending a helpful hand when it’s needed the most. 

“It’s common for equipment operators to pull over in their plow truck to help stranded motorists and check on the safety of those who may be inside,” said Donnie Burkholder, Equipment Operator Senior in Salina. 

When Strong City Equipment Operators Carl Zorn and Dean Switzer were doing route checks, they pulled over to help two motorists who blew a tire. They not only helped the couple to safely change the tire on a busy road but also helped to call a local shop and locate a new tire. Dave and Debbie McCarthy then wrote a nice thank you letter to KDOT expressing their gratitude to Zorn and Switzer. 

KDOT Equipment Operators Dean Switzer  and Carl Zorn from the Strong City office assisted two motorists who blew a tire. 
In another example, on an afternoon heading west on I-70 after a day of training in Topeka, Kenny Cohen, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Junction City, pulled over to help a woman change a flat tire. “The young woman had tears in her eyes and expressed sincere gratitude when I helped her,” said Cohen. Cohen says he and his crew have also helped to deliver fuel to stranded motorists and assisted motorists to find help for a broken-down vehicle.  

KDOT workers face many different scenarios with when finding a vehicle on the side of the road. Doug Newquist, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Beloit, said he will never forget when he pulled up to a vehicle from out of state who was parked on the side of the road because their family dog had just passed away while traveling. Newquist helped the family locate a nearby vet for cremation services while they were out of state. “Anytime a motorist is stranded on the side of the road it is our duty to stop and check on them,” Newquist said.

Amy Allen says she will never forget the story of when her husband, Scott Allen, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Salina, pulled over to check on a stranded vehicle and found a girl in tears who was about to take her own life. “Scott reacted quickly by comforting the girl and immediately called law enforcement who later told him he probably saved that young girl’s life when he found her on the side of the road,” said Amy.


Cody Deneault, Equipment Operator from Belleville, assisted a driver who was stuck in the snow earlier during a snow and ice event this past winter. 

This past winter many KDOT employees showed that by putting in long hours to help the team battle the removal of snow and ice. When you may have been at home sleeping in bed or sitting down to dinner, several workers at KDOT were putting on their work boots and winter coats so they could work to clear the highways and help keep Kansas moving. In one example, Cody Deneault, Equipment Operator in Belleville, pulled over to help a motorist get their vehicle unstuck by digging out the snow around it, laying salt under its wheels, and even helping to push the car out.

In another example, Clyde Thrush, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Minneapolis, was there when a citizen desperately needed his help to get the emergency care needed by clearing the path in his plow truck, so the local ambulance could get to the hospital.

KDOT Highway Maintenance Supervisor from Minneapolis cleared the way for an emergency vehicle so they could make it to the hospital in time to save a life. 
These acts of kindness make them the hidden heroes on our state’s highways by being there when you need help the most. They don’t wear capes and to them it is just part of the job as they pull over in their orange hat or vest expecting nothing in return but a smile. 

Whether it be needing to sit in a warm truck until help arrives on a cold winter night, being broken down on the side of the road and needing to call for help, or just needing help to safely drive from one location to another in bad winter conditions, KDOT workers are there to help.