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Here’s the buzz! Did you know that pollinators are vital to Kansas’ economy? About three-quarters of the world's flowering plants and many of the food crops eaten in North America depend on pollinators. In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $24 billion worth of products annually.  

The Monarch butterfly caterpillar can only eat the leaves of milkweed. Monarch Butterflies only lay their eggs
on milkweed plants. Losing these important plants could be devastating to these important pollinators.
Unfortunately, bee and Monarch butterfly populations are on the decline. The lack of pollination would mean no apples, blueberries, almonds, melons, pumpkins, chocolate, coffee and more. 

A Monarch butterfly on a Butterfly Milkweed plant. 

In order to help change that, KDOT crews will be busy for the fourth year in a row as they continue to plant  native wildflowers and grasses along our roadways.

One of the many varieties of flowers and plants you'll see along our roadways are the Black-Eyed Susan flowers.


This is all thanks to a partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Last September, KDOT was awarded $65,000 for the restoration and enhancement of rights-of-way for Monarchs. The grant will provide approximately 125 acres of pollinator habitat to be completed within in the next two summers. 

This year the project locations include:

·         I-35 & U.S. 59 Interchange – 52 acres
·         Linn County Rest Area, U.S. 69 & K-52 Interchange – 26 acres
·         I-35/Homestead Lane Interchange, Johnson County – 22 acres
·         Montgomery County Rest Area, U.S. 400 & U.S.169 Interchange – three acres

Common Milkweed in bloom.

This year around 100 acres will be planted, and next year, an additional 22 acres will be added in Franklin County.  This grant was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The next time you take a drive, be on the lookout for these incredibly important pollinator habitats with the help of brand new KDOT Pollinator Habitat signs, which will be installed this year along some of the areas mentioned above.

Be on the lookout for these signs as you travel across the state. They'll be added this year!

For more information on how KDOT is helping pollinators, click here: http://pollinatorpartners.ksdot.org
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Sunset at The Friends of Hays Dog Park. Credit: Friends of Hays Dog Park.
Three dogs enjoy a run through one of the
 many open fields at the Mutt Run in Lawrence.
Are you scratching your head about where you can take your dog to experience a fun day of play? There are more than 20 dog park locations that offer plenty of open spaces for your pup to release some energy and have a ball. We are highlighting a few of them in today’s Motoring Monday.


Starting in northwest Kansas and located off of Old U.S. 40 in Hays - the Friends of the Hays Dog Park offers two separate fenced-in areas depending on the size of your furry friend. There are shelter houses and doggy drinking fountains to help keep your entire pack cool. 

Kim Perez says that one of the reasons she loves the dog park in Hays is that she gets to meet people from all over the U.S. who have planned their trips strategically so they can exercise their furry family member at dog parks. She said she has met people from Missouri, Georgia and even California.

The next location is the K-9 Rooster Dog Park in Wichita. This park features three off-leash enclosures for each size of dog joining you on your journey. This park was named for a fallen Canine Office named Rooster, who lost his life in the line of duty.


Shawnee Mission Dog Park.
Farther north in Salina is Barkley Park. According to the city of Salina, their facility opened in August 2016. The two-acre dog park features two open fenced-in areas. Barkley Park is located within the E. Crawford Recreation area and is open daily from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Located in Lawrence is the Mutt Run. This 30-acre off-leash dog park is one of Kansas’ more unique canine destinations. Miles of trails and walking paths weave their way throughout the park so your dog can run free through trees, open brush and even climb haystacks. There is an additional smaller park located nearby for dogs that require fenced-in areas. The Mutt Run is located within the Clinton Lake Reservoir. 

The final stop is the Shawnee Mission Dog Park, a 44-acre off leash dog area that a great get-away for you and your canine buddy. This location is complete with wood chip and trails through the trees, walkways and even a beach where your pooch can enjoy some waves. This great doggy vacation spot can be found east of the observation tower on John Barkley Drive in Shawnee Mission.

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Summer temperatures are beginning to heat up. What can you do if you see a pet trapped in a car and in distress? Here are some signs to look for and some tips to help you be prepared:

Most animals left in cars are dogs of all shapes and sizes and the heat can affect them quickly . KDOT encourages you to check with your local law enforcement to understand what you can do when you see a pet trapped in a car on a hot day. 

According to the Humane Society’s website there are a few steps you should remember to take before you start smashing windows. 
  • You should start by taking down the car’s information and description. What is the make and model of the car? What color is it? What is the license plate number?
  • If you are in a parking lot attempt to get a hold of the manager or employee from the store or business. Have them try to find the owner.
  •  If that fails, call the NON-emergency phone number for your local law enforcement and explain the situation. Then wait for them to give you further instructions or for them arrive.
  • Fortunately, last year Kansas adopted a Good Samaritan law that may protect you should you try to rescue the animal by breaking a window or opening the door. You should know the law and the steps to take before you take action. Always contact law enforcement first. 

If the pet is showing any signs of heat distress get it to a cool area and apply cool, not cold, water if possible. Then call a local veterinarian for further assistance.

Remember, if you see something, say something. It is never okay to leave a pet inside a hot car. Cracked windows will not keep them cool. If its too hot for you, its way too hot for them. 
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During heavy rainfall events, with even the slightest chance of flooding, KDOT crews are on the lookout to help keep everyone safe by monitoring the roads in Kansas.

Crews keep a close eye on flood-prone roads and areas of concern and they watch for high water that may come onto the roadway.

“Due to the wet winter and wet spring, this year we put many workers on standby during several storms to monitor the flooding situation at numerous locations,” said James Roudybush, Maintenance Engineer in north central Kansas.

When water is only partially over the roadway and it is safe to drive on another part of the road, KDOT crews flag vehicles around the high water so traffic can continue to flow.  If the water becomes too high for traffic to safely go around or the high water around the road has caused unsafe conditions, the roadway will be closed until it is safe to reopen.

“We set up traffic control and try to ensure traffic doesn’t go past the barricades to keep everyone safe,” said Billy Wilson, Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Strong City.
If you come across an area with water over the roadway that is not being controlled, you should call 9-1-1.  Crews will then determine if the road should be closed until water goes down or if part of the road is safe to drive on.

In order to safely reopen the highway, all debris must be removed that may have floated onto it and the roadway surface and any bridges must be inspected for damage.

“After recent flooding we have had to cut up trees with a chainsaw and remove them from bridges or roadways to prevent damage,” Wilson said.

If there is damage to the roadway or bridge, it may have to be repaired before it can be reopened.

Crews work hard to reopen roads after flooding has occurred. Please remember to give the crews room to work and never drive around a barricade.  Remember: if you come across high water, turn around, don’t drown! More rain is in the forecast this weekend. 

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Northbound I-635 
A patching project from the Hump Yard Bridge to just north of the State Avenue is one of 22 projects selected in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s May 22 monthly bid letting.

Close up of the current surface on northbound
I-635 and eastbound I-70 ramps.
The $4,423,433 concrete patching project will begin this construction season with R A Knapp as the primary contractor. I-635 will be reduced to two lanes throughout the bridge work and the ramps to and from northbound I-635 and K-32 will be closed to the northbound ramp during the project as well.

Lane restrictions will go through November and then there will be a winter shutdown and work will resume and completed next March.

There are three other projects that tie in with this one on I-70 and I-635.

For more projects included in May’s letting click here:


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Abilene is well known for its historical roots as it is the former home of five-star General and 34th President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. The large white home that Eisenhower grew up in is administered by the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). This historical home is now part of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home and named one of the top Kansas attractions by USA Today.
But did you know Abilene also has another hidden gem dedicated to him?
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Works Progress Administration was the basis for beginning the construction of a rose garden located at northwest Fourth and Pine Street in Abilene. In June 1944, the 40-acre park was dedicated to Dwight D. Eisenhower and has since been known as the Eisenhower Park & Rose Garden. It was from the park stadium on June 6, 1952, that General Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his candidacy for President.
The park contains several facilities for park visitors including walking trails, shelter houses, restrooms, the Abilene skate park, Abilene Municipal swimming pool, Bill Gravette Sports Complex, lighted volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts and the Ted Power baseball diamond.
The best time to see and visit this park is around July 1, when the flowers are in full bloom. You can relax here as you take in the breath-taking views and beautiful aroma of fresh roses. 









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During clean-up efforts in the Linwood area, a huge tree is loaded in the KDOT truck.

KDOT crews cleaned up and hauled away debris and limbs.

By Kim Stich
Informational Specialist
A May 28 tornado did significant damage in Douglas and Leavenworth counties, and KDOT crews are assisting with emergency and clean-up responses.

The National Weather Service reported the tornado on the ground in Douglas County at 6 p.m. and in Leavenworth County at K-32 about 6:25 p.m.

Crews were on the scene in Lawrence soon after as high winds overturned a semi-truck on U.S. 59 south of Lawrence, closing the highway for a short time.

KDOT crews block the main road off U.S. 59 to the area that was
damaged south of Lawrence.

Lawrence Highway Maintenance Supervisor Mark Mestagh said crew members worked with law enforcement and emergency responders the rest of the night and for several days afterwards in blocking roads to keep turn lanes and ramps closed to the public so that utility companies and other clean-up crews could work. They are continuing efforts there for the next week or so.

Mestagh said the tornado passed about a quarter-mile from the Subarea shop. High winds lifted a crash attenuator over the shop and it ended up 700 feet away on the other side of the lot. One corner of the roof was peeled up. In addition, five message boards were destroyed and brine tanks were knocked over, he said.


The tornado came within a quarter-mile of the complex.
Five message boards were blown over and destroyed at the
Lawrence Subarea Office. In addition, an attenuator was carried
over the building and landed about 700 feet away. 



Bonner Springs Superintendent Peter Wiehe was in Linwood by 6:50 p.m. with crew members on their way with equipment loaders, backhoes and other vehicles.

"We were on it as quick as we could get there, probably a little too quick as the weather was still very bad out," he said.

Wiehe said there was a lot of hand work the first night cutting trees off the road with chain saws. Two crew members had to hold lights as they worked into the evening.

Efforts will continue in the Linwood area and on K-32 for the next couple weeks. Wiehe said he talked with Linwood Mayor Brian Christenson and his wife during clean-up efforts, "and they said we are doing a great job and thanked us for the work we have done."



Tree limbs are cleared away in Leavenworth County.
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There’s MAGIC in the air this week in Topeka, as the Mentoring a Girl in Construction returns to the capital city.

Participants in this year's MAGIC Camp.
Doria Watson, Civil Rights Administrator for KDOT said that at least 20 girls are participating in the free and educational event this week.

MAGIC Camp students work on a
construction project.
“The ultimate goal for MAGIC Camp is to expose young girls to transportation and construction related careers and opportunities,” Watson said. “It also helps them look outside of traditional careers, or careers they have been exposed to — as well as to introduce them to successful females working in the transportation field.”

Campers will have opportunities to do quite a few hands-on projects. “At the start of the week they attended a session on safety and tools and constructed a key holder,” Watson said. “They will work on a Habitat for Humanity project, experience some cement mixing and masonry work and if the weather cooperates, the girls will get to participate in an “equipment rodeo” where they actually experience operating construction equipment.”

Watson said that each day the girls will experience a different mode of transportation and the careers associated with it — from entry level positions all the way up to executive management.

“The experiences will be beneficial no matter what career is chosen,” Watson said. “The goal is not only for them to consider the transportation opportunities but to understand the importance of transportation in their lives, the importance of safety in transportation and to increase appreciation for workers who give daily in this service industry.”

While attending MAGIC Camp the girls get a chance to visit transportation related businesses.
The camp runs until this Friday.

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May was one of the wettest months Kansas has seen in recent years. Some parts of the state saw more than 20 inches of rain — more than four times the average amount for some areas. 

Greg Schieber, KDOT Bureau Chief of Construction and Materials said that KDOT is currently working through the impact of severe weather on the 2019 construction season.

"Not only has the severe weather impacted the physical work that can be completed on a project, it is also impacting materials supply for projects including aggregate supply and binder supply," Shieber said.   "We are working with contractors now on prioritizing the projects that can be completed this construction season. KDOT also has initiated discussions on the potential of changing late start dates and delaying some projects until the 2020 construction season."

Estimated rainfall for the month of May. Source: NOAA 

Shieber said in some situations, the floodwaters are still too high to assess damages, putting construction projects farther behind. As reported last week, the Lewis and Clark Viaduct is one of those projects. 

Location at Kaw Point, where the Kansas River meets the Missouri River near the Lewis and Clark Viaduct. The Kansas river has pushed the flow of the Missouri river to the north.  

All this additional rainfall only exasperated several rivers that were already full because of heavy snow melt from states farther north. Highways in parts of the state have closed at times due to water covering the surface and that’s not the only problem. This much water has led to delays in maintenance repairs and construction projects across the state.
Joe Palic, KDOT Area Engineer in Marion, is dealing with delays on some construction projects. 

High waters caused K-177 to close between Strong City and Cottonwood Falls last month. 

“The flooding hasn’t been the issue, it’s been the heavy rains that have saturated the job sites and made it tough to work,” Palic said. 

Ashley Tammen, Public Affairs Manager for north central Kansas, also said that for each day of heavy rain means another day lost in highway work as crews work to clean up debris from flooding.

KDOT crews help clear water on K-140 in Saline County last month.


Ron Hall, District Engineer for southwest Kansas, said that weather can have an impact on construction season. “Some projects may take longer to complete, the planned start date for some projects may be delayed,” Hall said. “Schedules and tasks change due the impact of weather events.” 

Delays can also happen because KDOT crews and contractors must spend more time and resources cleaning up debris and tacked on mud on the roadways. 

After the flood waters recede debris can be left behind and KDOT crews work to clear the roads. 

“Pavement can sustain damage from floodwater,” Tom Hein, Public Affairs Manager for south central Kansas said. “Before a highway is reopened, it is checked for damage.” 
Hein also said that while there have been delays on smaller projects, for larger projects it is less of a problem. “It slows down work, but they’ll eventually catch up.”

Damage to K-7 in northeast Kansas from flooding earlier this spring. 


The heavy rains and flooding have also had an impact on normal maintenance activities across the state, like mowing the right of ways. 

Jeff Romine, Area Superintendent for Wamego, said that there are a couple of reasons why crews can’t mow when the ground is saturated.

Heavy rains help grass grow quickly, unfortunately, all the water received has caused the ground to become saturated, which can make mowing efforts difficult. 

“It is harder on the equipment when it is wet due to the equipment falling through muddy area,” Romine said.  “It also causes the mower to pull harder with the mower getting mud stuck between tires and frame of the machine. Mowing when wet leaves large ruts in the ground and then the grass dies, creating more work because we need to haul dirt in and do some landscaping.” 

Romine also added that if KDOT mowing equipment is damaged, it puts crews even farther behind.

Kansas is expected to receive even more rain this week. Please be patient as KDOT crews work when it is safe to do so. Please be aware of flooding risks and check Kandrive.org regularly for road conditions. Remember if you come across a flooded roadway — turn around, don’t drown. 




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A church in Codell was destroyed in the May 20, 1918, tornado.
May 20 be just another day to most people, but it’s a date that will be forever etched into the history of one small Kansas town.

Starting in 1916, the town of Codell along K-18 in Rooks County would be struck by tornadoes not once, not twice, but three times in three consecutive years – all on May 20.

The first tornado in 1916 touched down in late afternoon about 3 miles south of Codell and traveled northeast for roughly 15 miles, just grazing the east edge of town. Several homes and farmsteads were damaged, and a few residents sustained injuries - however no one was killed. It would later be rated as an F2 storm on the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale.
The high school in Codell was also demolished in the 1918 tornado.

The 1917 storm was another late afternoon event, this time affecting the west edge of town. A stronger storm at an F3, the twister caused more damage than the previous year. But no lives were lost and few were injured. At the time, it was considered one of the most extensive tornadoes to hit the area, until disaster would strike again the following year.

A sculpture commemorates the three tornadoes that hit Codell.
Estimated at an F4 with wind speeds of more than 200 mph, the 1918 tornado was by far the largest and most destructive of the three. The twister spanned a path from Trego County to Osborne County, traveling approximately 60 miles over a six-hour period. Unlike the other storms, which hit during the late afternoon and early evening hours, the 1918 storm struck after dark. The tornado tore a path down the middle of town, destroying a majority of its homes, businesses, churches and the school. Ten people were killed and dozens more injured. After three twisters in three consecutive years, residents and businesses were hesitant to rebuild. The town would never fully recover and currently has a population of less than 100 residents.

May 20 became known as Cyclone Day in Codell with residents keeping an eye on the sky on that day for years to come. In 2018, on the 100-year anniversary of the last storm, a sculpture depicting a tornado was erected at the former high school to commemorate the trio of twisters.

For more information on the Codell tornadoes and to read a first-hand account of the 1918 storm, visit www.rookscounty.net/codell.

 

 
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