Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Pothole patrol

KDOT crews clear debris and dirt away.

By Lisa Mussman, 
Northwest Kansas Public Affairs Manager

After a long season of battling snow and ice, KDOT crews are starting to shift their focus to repairing the damage winter weather has left behind on the roads. Among that damage is a plethora of potholes dotting the pavement in all parts of the state.

Potholes are formed when moisture left over from snow and ice seeps into cracks in the pavement. When the temperature drops, water freezes and expands the pavement, causing it to bulge and crack. Cars driving over these trouble spots eventually cause the pavement to break up, forming a pothole.

KDOT has a variety of methods and tools available for pothole patching, one of them being spray patching. Spray patching is done with a specialized trailer mounted machine, reducing the need for many different pieces of equipment. Crews recently utilized this method on a portion of U.S. 36 in Norton.

The process begins with clearing any debris and dirt out of the hole.

One of the ways crews can repair a pothole is using the spray patching technique. 

A tack coat may then be applied, followed by a layer of emulsified asphalt and aggregate. The emulsion is essentially the glue that will hold the asphalt together in the hole.

Finally, the hole is topped with a layer of dry rock and excess materials are swept up. After a short curing period, the patch is ready to withstand traffic.

The final step of filling a pothole is by adding a layer of dry rock that will help the
 patch be able to withstand traffic. 

As KDOT begins to ramp up its pothole patrols, motorists are reminded to slow down and move over for crews working.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

KDOT Secretary Lorenz confirmed by Senate

Julie Lorenz has been confirmed as Secretary
of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Julie Lorenz was confirmed by the Senate today as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).  Lorenz was appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly in January 2019. In her capacity as Secretary of KDOT, Lorenz also serves as the Director of the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

“Secretary Lorenz is an expert in the area of transportation and understands just how critical it is to the future of our economy and our state,” Gov. Kelly said. “She has been a state and national leader in transportation for two decades and Kansas is lucky to have her leading KDOT.”

“I am honored to serve as the Secretary of Transportation,” Lorenz said. “I look forward to working collaboratively with communities and constituencies across our state to develop a supportable vision for transportation, complete T-WORKS and craft the next transportation plan for long-term, sustainable success for all Kansans.”

This is Lorenz’s second tour of duty for KDOT, serving as the Director of Public Affairs and Special Assistant from 2003 to 2011. During that time, she led the development of several efforts at the agency, including the development and eventual legislative passage of the $8.2 billion, 10-year T-WORKS funding program in spring 2010.

Make a difference – adopt a highway

Make a difference in your community and help the environment at the same time – join the Adopt-A-Highway program in Kansas.

The goal of the program is to clean along the roadways throughout the state to increase safety for motorists and pedestrians as well as improve the beauty of Kansas. This helps to raise awareness on the negative effects of pollution and the positive aspects of a clean community.

Any non-profit group that does not discriminate upon the basis of race, religion or gender can join and there is no cost to the group. Members must be at least 11 years old and have adequate adult supervision. Groups have clean-ups three times a year and are recognized for their efforts with signs marking their sections of highway.

Adopt-A-Highway groups are gearing up for the annual Clean Up Kansas Campaign which takes place during the month of April. This event, as well as the program, is sponsored by the Kansas Department of Transportation. 

All Adopt-A-Highway groups are encouraged but not required to participate in the statewide event.

Groups clean their sections of roadway three times a year at their convenience. Most choose to schedule a clean-up time in the spring, summer and fall.

For more information, contact the KDOT office in your area (listed below). Ask for the Adopt-A-Highway coordinator in the KDOT office located closest to you.

Volunteers should have the following qualifications before heading out:
  • Good physical condition, including sight and hearing.
  • Mental alertness, don’t participate if you are tired or drowsy.
  • A sense of responsibility for the safety of the public and the crew.
  • A willingness to use good common sense.
  • Group members must be 11 years old and have adequate adult supervision
Once you join
  • Most highway sections are two miles long. Groups that adopt a Kansas highway must agree to remove litter at least three times a year for two years per their convenience.
  • There is no cost to join the group – KDOT provides trash bags and safety vests.
  • Please contact your KDOT office before a scheduled cleanup.
  • Volunteers should only pick up litter along one side of the highway at a time and only work during daylight hours.
  • It is encouraged that volunteers carpool to the destination to reduce the number of vehicles and only park in the recommended areas.
  • Wear bright and light clothing with long sleeves if possible. Also wear a hat, sunscreen insect replant and proper footware.
  • Be alert. Be aware of traffic at all times and if you see any suspected toxic/hazardous chemicals or dead animals, DO NOT try to handle or remove them. Notify your nearest KDOT office, the Kansas Highway Patrol, or local police department.
  • However you decide to get involved it’s important to be safe while helping your community. For more tips, check out the Adopt-A-Highway website.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Work to begin soon on Garden City’s U.S. 50/83 bypass

KDOT Crews in Garden City hoist a detour sign into place. 

The U.S. 50/83/400 bypass in Garden City is one of the most heavily traveled highways in Southwest Kansas carrying almost 11,000 vehicles per day with 23 percent of those being heavy commercial traffic. 

According to Brian Kierath, Jr. with KDOT’s Bureau of Road Design in Topeka, “This project is a full depth pavement reconstruction to replace concrete and asphalt pavement, some of which dates back to 1984. Pavement age, combined with a high percentage of truck traffic makes this a necessary project at this time.”

Koss Construction is the contractor on this $11.2 million project which started Wednesday, March 20 and is expected to be completed in December. 

The project will be completed in phases and includes the following improvements:    

  • The addition of turn lanes at Campus Drive facilitating smoother traffic flow;
  • Improved lighting at the Fulton Street interchange;
  • A dynamic messaging sign (DMS) being added along U.S. 50 east of Campus Drive to advise drivers of road conditions; 
  • Improvements to the City system at Spruce Street through a partnership between the City of Garden City and KDOT which will limit road closures at this intersection for the traveling public.

KDOT crews in Garden City install signage the help drivers navigate the detour.

Friday, March 22, 2019

KDOT materials designed for safety, with you in mind!

Have you ever thought about what KDOT looks for when choosing materials that are used in our transportation system? KDOT not only considers the amount of wear and tear materials can endure but also considers important aspects of each material that can impact your safety while driving. Over the years many improvements have been made to the materials KDOT uses in the transportation system with a focus on safety.

You may not think your safety can be impacted by a sign post or guardrail, but it can. James Roudybush, District Two Maintenance Engineer says KDOT has designed sign posts to break away in the chance of a collision. To do this, holes have been properly placed at the bottom of sign posts for breakaway and breakaway bases are placed at the bottom of steel sign posts. This allows the post to breakaway in the event of a collision, this design is intended to cause less damage. 

The material used to paint stripes on the roadway is also important. Mike Hahn, Paint Crew Supervisor in District Two, says KDOT tests the stripe material standard levels of retroreflectivity.
Pavement markings are more than just white or yellow paint. Research
and testing goes into the stripe material before they are applied to the road

According to the Federal Highway Administration, retroreflectivity bounces light from vehicle headlights back toward the vehicle and the driver’s eyes, making the road markings recognizable from a greater distance.  Retroreflectivity also makes markings appear brighter and easier to see at night. Hahn says KDOT schedules the replacement of striping once their measurement of retroreflectivity drops below minimum the levels.

These are only a few improvements KDOT has made to the safety of materials that are used in the state’s transportation system. KDOT staff participates in national committees to keep up to date with research and also reviews new safety products that may be  used in our transportation system. KDOT will continue these efforts in the future to help meet the needs of the traveling public.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

#IAMKDOT: Frankie Burns

Chances are that wherever you see a KDOT crew in Grant or Stanton County, you will also find Frankie Burns, the Ulysses Highway Maintenance Supervisor. During his 12 years with KDOT, Burns has served as an Equipment Operator Trainee, an Equipment Operator and as the Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Garden City and Ulysses. 

Burns is always there, leading and helping the Ulysses crew. He may be filling potholes or edge ruts, mowing, flagging traffic, snow plowing or even paving. Burns says the best part of his job is working with new operators and being able to teach them and help them learn. 

During his time with KDOT, he and his team were awarded the Example of Excellence award for their work paving the Division of Motor Vehicles’ yard in Garden City so that it could be used year-round for CDL training.

Burns has many memorable moments, but says 2017 was an especially memorable year.  During the April 30 blizzard, which dumped over a foot of snow in southwest Kansas, Burns was plowing between Garden City and Deerfield when he stopped to assist a car stranded in the ditch. With below freezing temps and the heavy snow, he was surprised to find several teenage girls in t-shirts and shorts trying to make their way from Garden City to Deerfield to see a friend. After calling the KHP to transport the girls to Deerfield, Burns waited with the girls until the KHP arrived.

Later that same year, Burns was assisting with traffic control following an anhydrous ammonia leak on the Garden City bypass. They had just moved traffic control back when Burns turned to walk back to his KDOT truck. He saw lights coming at him and heard the vehicle accelerate. He turned and ran just in time to escape serious injury. His KDOT truck was totaled by the driver that crashed into it at full speed. Fortunately, Burns escaped without injury.

Burns lives in Lakin and has three children and two granddaughters. In his spare time Burns enjoys woodworking, working in his shop, NASCAR (especially Martin Truex Jr.) and is very attached to his Harley.

#IAMKDOT is an illustration project that recognizes KDOT employees who work hard to keep Kansans moving. This series also serves as a reminder for travelers to slow down and remember that underneath those neon vests are individuals with families, friends and hobbies waiting for them at home.

Do you know a KDOT worker that deserves recognition? Nominations are open! Email today to get started! 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Interchange project uses smart work zone to help drivers

It’s not often that a multi-year highway project finishes a full six months before its deadline. But that’s what drivers in Wichita have experienced with the first phase of the I-235/U.S. 54 Interchange improvements in west Wichita.

The I-235/U.S. 54 Interchange Project opened to traffic a full six months ahead of schedule. 

While the three-year project still has some work that is waiting for spring weather, drivers have been enjoying the benefits of the lane and ramps improvements since December. The remaining work items should not affect traffic and the project will wrap up before the planned date in June.

The project eliminated dangerous merge points and added dedicated directional ramps to make the interchange easier to travel. 
The project eliminated dicey merge points. Dedicated directional ramps make the busy interchange much easier to maneuver. 

A traffic camera helps monitor the construction area.

During the three years of construction, a Smart Work Zone was used to alert drivers of traffic incidents and other problems leading to congestion in the work zone. From K-42 to Central Avenue on I-235 and from Maize Road to downtown Wichita on U.S. 54, multiple monitoring devices positioned throughout the project area communicated real-time travel conditions then automatically posted travel times to common destinations in the city. 

Portable message signs were placed to help direct traffic and give drivers more information about their route.

Fifteen portable message signs placed on arterial streets were used to complement the large roadside WICHway message boards. Messages with estimated drive times through the construction zone allowed drivers to make informed decisions about their route. 

According to data collected during construction, as much as 50 percent of the traffic was diverted once delays of seven minutes or more were reported on the message signs.

“The design of the Smart Work Zone kept traffic moving safely, both through the construction site and along the alternative routes,” said Garry Olson, KDOT Smart Work Zone Coordinator. “We are encouraged by the results and look forward to maximizing this technology in future projects.”

And future projects keep coming. In the last week, a new three-year project on I-235 in north Wichita began that will replace six bridges, upgrade and expand travel lanes and reconfigure the I-235 and North Broadway interchange. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Celebrating women who made transportation history

From the sea, across land, and all the way to the stars, women have made an incredible difference on our world.  March is Women’s History Month and we would like to take the time to share with you some incredible women who had a great impact on transportation.

Nellie Bly: Have you ever read the book by Jules Vern, Around the World in 80 Days? The classic adventure told the story of Phileas Fogg and his desire to circumnavigate the earth in 80 days. Elizabeth Jane Cochrane was a journalist who went by the name Nellie Bly, and she was inspired by the book. In 1889, at the age of 25, she traveled around the world — and she did it in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds. According to she used a variety of transportation methods to achieve her lofty goal, including: ship, horse, rickshaw, sampan, burro and other vehicles.

Anne Rainford French Bush: In 1900, cars were just starting to be manufactured and there were only a handful of people who actually owned and drove them.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Anne Rainford French Bush was the first woman who obtained a “steam engineer’s license,” which allowed her to operate a four-wheeled vehicle powered by steam or gas.” In an article in Life Magazine from Sept. 1952, Bush said that the speed limit was nine miles an hour, and her father was pulled over for going 12 miles an hour in his convertible.

Alice Huyler Ramsey: In 1909, 22 year-old Alice Huyler Ramsey, drover her way into history as the first woman to drive coast to coast across the United States. According the Smithsonian Magazine, her 3,800 journey from New York to California took 59 days to complete. In those days, there was no GPS and the majority of America’s roads were not fit for long distance travel. Ramsey relied on the Blue Book travel guides with directions that weren’t always accurate. Ramsey and her three women passengers had to conquer many obstacles, including car trouble, inclement weather, and the fact that there were no directions west of the Mississippi River. Ramsey would eventually be the founder of the Women’s Motoring Club.

Olive Dennis: According to, In 1920, Dennis was hired by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to work as a bridge designer in the engineering department. Later, her role changed to a service engineer where she was responsible for engineering upgrades that would make train rides more comfortable. Dennis invented reclining seats, stain resistant upholstery, adjustable ceiling lights that could be dimmed in the passenger cars. Arguably her greatest invention was the window vents that brought in fresh air, but kept the dust out and air conditioning that was used aboard the trains and also implemented in planes and busses. Dennis said, “No matter how successful a business may seem to be, it can gain even greater success if it gives consideration to the women’s viewpoint.” She was also the first female member of the American Railway Engineering Association.

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) During World War II, the army was desperate for pilots to deliver newly built training aircraft to flight schools. Twenty-eight women pilots volunteered to take job of ferrying these aircraft. For the next two years, 1,074 more women volunteered and they were trained to ferry, tow gunnery targets, transport equipment and personnel, and test aircraft that had been repaired. 

According to, the WASP served at 120 different bases around the country and carried out a variety of aviation-related positions. The WASP asked Walt Disney if they could use a female gremlin character, called Fifinella, from an unaired cartoon as their mascot.

Although It took another 37 years before they were granted military status, these women played an important role in WWII.

“These 1,102 Women Airforce Service Pilots flew wingtip to wingtip with their male counterparts,” the site said. “And they were just as vital to war effort.”

Rosie the Riveter:  This famous icon represents all the women who went to work as the men were fighting in World War II. Rosie the Riveter was a campaign geared toward recruiting workers for defense industries. By the end of the war, one out four women worked outside the home.

The aviation industry saw the most women workers. According to, 310,000 women went to work in the U.S. aircraft industry.

Rosie the Riveter is slightly based on a real-life munitions worker, and she stressed the patriotic need for women to continue working. The term is also based on a song of the same name.  The most popular illustration of Rosie was created by artist Jay Howard Miller in 1942. Norman Rockwell also created his own Rosie in 1943.

Rosie the Riveter continues to be an inspirational icon for women across the world.

Janet Guthrie: Ever since auto racing got its start, it has been a predominantly male sport. But in the early 1970's a woman with a degree in physics by the name of Janet Guthrie wanted to change that. In 1976, she became the first woman to compete in a NASCAR race, and in the following year she became the first female driver to start in the Daytona 500. She won Top Rookie honors because of her 12thplace finish in NASCAR’s biggest race. Later that year she qualified for the Indy 500. Although her racing career never saw her in victory lane, she paved the way for countless female race car drivers. In 2005 she was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Sally Ride: Nasa was formed in 1958, and it would be another 25 years before an American woman would blast off into Earth’s Orbit. Sally Ride, was born on May 26, 1951. Ride received her doctorate in physics in 1978. After she completed her studies, she applied to become an astronaut for NASA and was selected, she began spacing training that same year. On June 18, 1983, Ride took her first space flight on the Challenger. She returned to space in 1984 and continued to work for NASA until 1987 and began teaching at the University of California in San Diego to help women and young girls study science and math. She was added to the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003.

Mae C. Jemison Nine years after Ride took her first spaceflight, Mae C. Jemison became the first African-American woman in space. Jemison was born on Oct. 17, 1956. She studied chemical engineering. According to, Jemison also received her M.D., and worked as a medical officer for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia. In 1985, she returned to the United States and followed her dream to become an astronaut for NASA. In 1987, she was chosen and after five years of working for NASA, she boarded Space Shuttle Endeavor and blasted off on Sept. 12, 1992. She spent eight days in space and conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Students to participate in Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day

Last month, we celebrated Black History Month with a blog about the inventor of the early version of the traffic signal, Garrett Morgan. Because of his dedication to improving the future of transportation, students have the chance to learn about the transportation industry through the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day Program.

According to the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials, (COMTO) the program is designed to educate students in grades K-12 about career opportunities in transportation.

Students receive an opportunity to learn more about careers in the transportation industry through the Garrett A. Morgan Shadow Day program. 

“The goal is to ensure that the nation is equipped with a workforce that can embrace the unlimited opportunities of the 21st Century,” an article from COMTO said.

Because demand for both traditional and new skills in the transportation continues to grow, the need to educate students about the many opportunities in the transportation field is crucial.  The current work force is rapidly reaching retirement and students entering the workforce have a chance to take advantage of transportation employment opportunities.

This Friday, students from Topeka and Kansas City will join KDOT employees on a field trip where they will receive hands-on experience with agencies in the transportation industry in Kansas City.
This event was originally supposed to take place in February but had to be rescheduled because of inclement weather.

Please check our social media pages next week for some pictures from the event!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

KDOT Values Series: District mentors help employees grow and improve

By Deb Gruver, Public Affairs Manager, south central Kansas

When Robin Gregory, the Acting Construction Engineer in Winfield, needed some advice recently about a bridge replacement project on U.S. 166 in Arkansas City, she called District Construction Mentor John Gatz.

Gatz, who works out of the District Five office in Hutchinson, drove down to the project site to lend a hand – and some expertise.

“We talked about driving the piling on the abutments on that bridge and the PDA (pile driving analyzer) that was run. She wanted another set of eyes to look at it,” Gatz said.
Gatz and Gregory met briefly that day as construction crews continued work on the bridge over the Arkansas River.

 “A mentor is great to have, especially when it’s been a while since you’ve done something” such as a bridge replacement, Gregory said.

In addition to reviewing paperwork, “he helps build confidence too,” Gregory said of Gatz. “He’s very easy to talk to and gives me feedback on my inspectors when I ask about their work.”

District Five Construction Mentor John Gatz helped teach some classes recently at the District Five materials lab in Hutchinson, working here with Engineering Technician Alan Perry.
KDOT has District Construction Mentors in each of its six districts across the state. Their role is to share their experience, problem-solve and help Engineering Technicians and others improve their skills. The department began hiring mentors in about 2005 or 2006, said Kevin Palic, Field Construction Engineer.

“They help with training and improving consistency across the district,” Palic said of mentors. “They’re kind of an assistant to the District Construction and Materials Engineer and help train our ETs (Engineering Technicians) across the district.”

Mentors play an important role at KDOT and provide valuable knowledge to newer employees, Palic said.

“I think they’re a valuable asset to have in every district. Not very long ago not every district had one,” he said. “We made a push to make sure every position was filled.”

District Five Engineer Brent Terstriep said mentors are someone newer Construction Engineers and Engineering Technicians can turn to to bounce ideas off of, and “it’s really important to have someone who can work with people.”

Mentors also provide important help cross-training KDOT employees, Terstriep said.

Gatz, who has worked for KDOT for 17 years, recently helped teach some classes at the District Five materials lab in Hutchinson. He became the District Construction Mentor in April 2018.

Formerly an Engineering Technician Senior in Pratt, Gatz said “I’m getting more comfortable in this role. I’m not on a specific project all the time like I was before. I go to a lot more projects.”

The KDOT Values series focuses on specific standards and goals that the agency strives to reach so transportation in Kansas can continue to move forward. Every district in the state has stories that share how KDOT is achieving our core values and we are sharing a story from different parts of the state every week!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Roundabout project in Stafford County one of February's approved projects

KDOT's south central Kansas Area One Engineer stands at the junction of U.S. 50/U.S. 281, where the new roundabout will be built.  

Work is expected to begin this spring on construction of a single-lane roundabout at the U.S. 50/U.S. 281 junction in Stafford County. KDOT let the project recently.

KDOT's south central Kansas Area One Engineer Scott Mullen said that there were a number of factors that contributed to building a roundabout instead of an interchange. 

"This style of roundabout is being built with special ramps to accommodate the large number of oversize loads that move through central Kansas on US-50 and US-281," Mullen said. "These ramps will allow the large loads to move safely around the exterior, while cars, pickups and normal sized trucks can move quickly through the interior roundabout." 

Mullen said safety was another consideration. 

“The roundabout prevents T-bone accidents, which can still happen at an interchange,” he said, also noting that a roundabout is about half the cost of an interchange.

Roundabouts also are more efficient than interchanges as they keep traffic moving. Turning vehicles don’t have to stop.

The junction will remain open during the phased $5.2 million project.

To read more about the other approved projects, click here. 

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sky troopers: KDOT flies with the KHP Air Support Unit

Kansas Highway Patrol Captain Jason Vanderweide took us on a tour of the northeast corner of Kansas.

Normally when people think of the Kansas Highway Patrol, they often think of flashing lights, blue and gold uniforms and patrol vehicles on the highways. But did you know the KHP also has troopers that take to the skies?

They are the KHP Air Support Unit, and they respond to requests for air support from public safety agencies across the state.  Earlier this week, we were given the opportunity to join KHP Captain Jason Vanderweide in a Cessna 206 on a tour of northeast Kansas. We learned a lot about these sky troopers.

One of the planes that the KHP uses in its flights is a Cesnna 206, pictured here just before takeoff. 
According to Vanderweide, the KHP acquired its first airplane in 1961. Currently, there are three bases of operation: Topeka, Wichita and Hays. The unit consists of six aircraft, including the Executive Aircraft, which is a King Air 350.  

“We first used aircraft for traffic enforcement and soon added blood relays,” Vanderweide said. “We still transport blood today. When an outlying medical facility needs blood in an emergency, the most expeditious means of getting it there is to fly it. We routinely pick up boxes of blood in Wichita and fly it to the rural areas of Kansas.”

Vanderweide said that there are a variety of missions that the KHP responds to, and each day brings a unique mission for the pilots.

“There isn’t a typical day for a KHP pilot,” Vanderweide said. “No two days are ever the same. As the KHP provides the only public safety air support to Kansas, we are often called to all areas of the state for a variety of missions. When pilots aren’t on a mission, they are training for advanced pilot ratings, helping the maintenance crew or out working the road - stopping cars or working accidents.”

They also relay information that they see in the air to the troopers on the ground and they can do that through the statewide radio network, or in person for time-sensitive material.
After major weather events, the KHP Air Support Unit assesses road conditions and attempts to identify stranded motorists. These events can include winter storms, floods, tornadoes and even wildfires. Once they spot the signs of a stranded vehicle, they then alert troopers on the ground.

There are other types of missions that the KHP Air Support Unit supports, such as:
  • Shootings / LE shootings / Active shooters
  • Crime scene photos / Accident photos
  • Missing persons / children
  • Prison riots  
  • Aircraft accidents
  • Infrastructure disasters – chemical plant explosion / derailments
  • Executive visits
  • Transportation of personnel and equipment
  • Pursuits
  • Manhunts
  • Surveillance flights
  • Safety programs and public relations
A view of K-10 from about 1,000 feet above the ground.

During our flight earlier this week, we learned that the aircrafts can travel at different altitudes depending on the situation. If the troopers are looking for a missing person or stranded vehicle, they typically fly around 1,000 feet above the ground. If they are doing surveillance work, they typically fly at altitudes of 4,000 feet or higher.

Vanderweide said that he has been flying with the KHP since 2008 and has logged more than 1,900 flight hours. There are other pilots who have anywhere from 4,000 to 9,000 flight hours and they even have other troopers who are training to become pilots.

“All KHP pilots were troopers first,” Vanderweide said. “We select troopers after they have served time working the road, and we bring them into the unit and train them to fly. The training aspect can take years to obtain the advanced rating to fly the Executive Aircraft or helicopter.”

Aside from manned aircraft, the KHP is also in the process of purchasing several Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) that will be used in a variety of missions.

“The UAS will be used in the area of accident reconstruction, Special response team missions and mobile field force,” Vanderweide said. “The Air Support Unit oversees administering the UAS program to ensure KHP is deploying the UAS appropriately and following all pertinent FAA regulations. It will be an integration project involving manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft working together to accomplish the mission in the quickest means available.”

Thanks once again to Vanderweide and the KHP Air Support Unit for taking us up with you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Concrete stitching helps preserve the driving surface

By Priscilla Peterson,
Public Affairs Manager, Southeast Kansas 

KDOT maintenance crews from Independence and Altoona recently took advantage of some mild winter days to perform a preservation activity called concrete stitching on sections of U.S. 400 in Montgomery County. 

The process is used to pin cracks in the driving pavement back together, preventing elevation and separation issues in concrete slabs.

To stitch the pavement, first a crew member measures the crack and paints locations that will be drilled at an angle to the crack. The painted spots are then drilled and cleaned.

Steel pins are placed alongside each drilled location, and epoxy is applied to each hole before the rebar pin is inserted.

Each pin is placed at a 35-degree angle to the crack and hammered into the hole.
Pin securely placed, more epoxy is applied and the hole is smoothed over.

The stitched section is now ready for crack sealing, as shown in a previously stitched and sealed location next to the work zone. And now, on to the next section! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Severe Weather Awareness Week: Be prepared

Although it may not look like it, spring is quickly approaching and with that brings the chances for storms and dangerous travel condition. Severe weather can strike at any moment. If you must drive through storms, know the safety tips required to reach your destination safely.

Be Prepared:

The bottom line when driving during severe weather is to be prepared for anything. Before you travel check the weather forecast of your entire route.
If you see darkening skies tune into a local radio station or have your passengers look up the weather on their devices. It can be a good idea to be aware of locations where you can take a break from driving. Gas stations, restaurants, libraries and shopping centers are good examples.  

Driving in Rain:

Wipers on. Headlights on: This is Kansas law. Protect yourself and others around you. Headlights help increase the chances that you will be seen by other drivers.

Turn on Wipers and Keep Windows Clear: This may be a no-brainer, but a surprising number of people drive with windshield wipers that aren’t at their peak performance. It is suggested to get them replaced every 6-12 months. Use your de-frost function or air conditioner to keep your windows clear of fog.

Be Patient:  Take it slower than usual and give extra room to the drivers around you. Wet roads could cause your vehicle to hydroplane or lose traction.

Turn Around Don’t Drown: During severe weather, flash floods may occur. Never try to cross a flooded road way. The water may be deeper than you think and it is dangerous to try to drive over it. Find an alternate route. It only takes a few inches for the current to take you and your vehicle for an unwanted ride.  Abandon your vehicle if it stalls and seek higher ground.

Turn off Cruise Control:  Road conditions during severe weather are inconsistent. You need to be in control, not your vehicle.

Driving during a hailstorm:

Take shelter:  Don’t leave your vehicle unless you can get inside quickly. The hailstones could cause injury.  If you are near an underpass or bridge it is safe to wait out the hail.

Pull over:  if you are not near any shelter, stay in your vehicle and pull to side of the road.

Driving During High Winds:

Watch for Flying Debris: High winds can pick up items that become dangerous weapons if they should hit your or your vehicle.

Be prepared for wind gusts: If you drive a high profile vehicle such as an SUV, bus, or semi truck, you have a higher risk of being affected by high wind gusts. Consider not traveling in these vehicles if you can avoid it.

Driving During a Tornado:

This one is easy: Don’t. Never try to outrun a tornado, and don’t drive during one either.  Get out of your car and find shelter. If none can be found, get below the road’s surface and cover your head. A ditch or low area is suggested. Be aware of the water level around you and be on the lookout for flash floods. Never seek shelter in an underpass.
In every weather situation it is best to buckle up - every trip, every time - and pay attention to your environment.