Posts tagged with Kdot

Kansas Highway Patrol expects tickets to decline as speed limits increase July 1 to 75 mph on some highways

Boosting speed limits on more than 800 miles of state and federal highways to 75 mph likely will reduce the number of tickets issued, at least during the next few months, the Kansas Highway Patrol says.

But don’t expect drivers to stay off the accelerators for long.

“Based on our experience in the past, when the speed limit is increased we see a time period of adjustment where traffic actually is moving slower than the posted limit,” said Technical Trooper Mark Engholm, a patrol spokesman. “It’s their comfort level.

“We’ll have to wait six months, maybe a year, to see what effect this has. It’s new territory. We’ll see what happens.”

The clock starts ticking on Thursday, when crews from the Kansas Department of Transportation begin riveting 276 metal plates — each featuring a fresh new “75” — onto existing 70 mph signs along 583 miles of state and federal highways being adjusted.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority, meanwhile, will begin affixing new 5s over 0s that same day on 90 signs along a 224-mile stretch of the turnpike, from the Oklahoma border all the way to the Kansas Highway 7 interchange at Bonner Springs.

The stretch includes about seven miles cutting through the Lawrence area, carrying an average of more than 28,000 vehicles per day.

Michael Johnston, the turnpike’s CEO, doesn’t expect driver speeds to increase dramatically, but the authority is conducted speed studies now at a handful of sites along the turnpike. Studies will be repeated this fall, to provide comparison data about drivers’ comfort levels.

Johnston, for one, figures the so-called “85th percentile” speed — the speed at which 85 percent of drivers are traveling at or below — might rise by 2 or 3 miles per hour in areas with the new 75 mph limit. That’s the speed, according to engineers, that drivers feel comfortable traveling.

“I drive a certain speed on the turnpike, and I’m not going to increase my speed at all,” Johnston said.

The new speed limit will go into effect in Kansas on 807 miles of state and federal highways, including the turnpike. That’s less than 10 percent of the nearly 10,000 miles of highways and freeways running throughout the state, a total system in which the Kansas Highway Patrol wrote 65,847 speeding tickets and issued 71,741 warnings for speeding.

For illustration's sake, the patrol would need to write 234 additional tickets — each with a $45 fine for going up to 10 mph over the posted speed limit, not including court costs — to cover the state’s added expense for updating signs. Not that the patrol worries about the revenue side.

Legislators didn’t allocate additional money to change the signs, but the Kansas Department of Transportation isn’t complaining.

“They did authorize a new program again last year,” said Steve Swartz, a department spokesman, referring to the $8 billion T-Works program that will finance projects for the next 10 years, “so we’re happy with that.”

By Mark Fagan

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Advisers begin K-10 cable barrier study

Nearly two hours into a meeting discussing the safety of Kansas Highway 10 east of Lawrence, Carie Lawrence looked up from a map of dots that had depicted points of fatality accidents that had occurred across the state.

“These people were all loved and cared for and missed,” said Lawrence, of Overland Park, whose 5-year-old grandson Cainan Shutt of Eudora died in an April 16 crash on K-10 near Eudora. “Every number has a name. I don’t want that to get forgotten as we go to these meetings.”

Nineteen members of the group met Thursday at the Eudora Community Center to examine the highway’s safety after the April double fatality and the Kansas Department of Transportation’s policy on placing cable median barriers on four-lane highways.

Cainan Shutt’s family, Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson and members of a Facebook group have urged the state to install the cable median barrier between Lawrence and Interstate 435 in Johnson County. The group was formed under a directive from Gov. Sam Brownback after Hopson wrote him a letter.

Initial meeting

Representatives from along the corridor included residents, law enforcement and city and county government officials. Clay Adams, KDOT’s northeast Kansas district engineer, and Hopson were selected as co-chairmen.

Most of Thursday’s discussion centered on the number of cross-median fatality crashes that have occurred on K-10. Cainan Shutt died in the April 16 crash. An eastbound Toyota Camry driven by 24-year-old Ryan Pittman of Eudora crossed over the median and collided head-on with the minivan Cainan was riding in with his grandparents and 2-year-old sister, Courtlynn, who was also injured.

According to KDOT statistics provided at the meeting, 1,246 total accidents occurred from 2006 to 2010 on K-10 resulting in nine deaths. Of those, 35 have involved vehicles crossing the median resulting in five deaths. Statewide, 104 people have died in 89 fatal cross-median crashes from 2000 to 2010.

Some group members said that K-10 had become dangerous because of the high speeds, distracted drivers and the number of cross-median crashes, and that KDOT’s policy should focus more on preventing fatalities and give less weight to crashes where no one is injured.

“We can repair and replace cars all day long, but when somebody goes over in a fatality accident, you can’t replace that,” said Johnson County Commissioner Jim Allen, of Shawnee, who also works in the insurance business.

Allen said the state should also likely focus on trying to save drivers who are in the correct lane during a cross-median crash.

KDOT officials have said the issue still merits study because cable barriers are “not benign” and still cause damage, like in crashes where drivers might have been able to regain control in a wider median. Adams said it’s estimated 1 in 40 cable barrier crashes involve a fatality or serious injury.

KDOT officials have also asked the group to develop a way to assess how it justifies when to install a cable median barrier on a state highway.

“I come to these meetings very open. I come to this process to as very open-minded. There are some people in KDOT who would just flat say we’re not going to put a barrier up,” Adams said. “I just want you to know I’m not one of those.”

Future study

Group members, including Lawrence Public Works Director Chuck Soules and Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman, mostly asked for more information for future meetings, such as specific details on what caused each cross-median fatality crash.

KDOT has already announced this year it will widen the shoulders and add rumble strips to K-10 in Douglas County to match the Johnson County section of the road. Hopson asked if the estimated $3.2 million cost of that project could instead be saved for a potential cable median construction, but Adams said the rumble strip project is part of repairing the surface of K-10 travel lanes.

“We couldn’t have taken that money and put it toward the cable. We needed to spend it there,” Adams said.

KDOT estimates it would cost $200,000 per mile to install a cable median barrier.

Members of the group scheduled their next meeting for July 14 when Dean Sicking, a University of Nebraska civil engineering professor who has helped KDOT study cable median barriers, is scheduled to give a presentation. Hopson said group members would meet monthly for five months so they could give a recommendation to KDOT in November.

KDOT would make the final decision about any improvements or changes to the highway.

By George Diepenbrock

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Speed limit on several highways — including Kansas Turnpike — to increase to 75 mph on July 1

Travelers in Kansas will get to their destinations faster as the state increases the speed limit on most freeways from 70 mph to 75 mph.

The change, announced Tuesday by the Kansas Department of Transportation, will take place July 1 just as the roads start filling up with motorists for the July 4 holiday weekend.

Almost all of the Kansas Turnpike — from the Kansas-Oklahoma border to K-7 in Wyandotte County — will be 75 mph as will most of interstates 70 and 35; and U.S. highways 69 and 81.

In all, 807 miles of roadway will graduate from 70 mph to 75 mph. All are freeways, which have controlled access and interchanges. No expressways, which have cross traffic, were selected for the increased speed limit.

The routes were picked by a task force made up of KDOT representatives, the Kansas Highway Patrol and Kansas Turnpike Authority.

“We considered a number of factors, such as traffic volumes, crash history and roadway geometrics, to determine where to raise the limit,” said Chris Herrick, director of KDOT’s Division of Planning and Development. “We will continue to monitor these routes under the new speed limit and consider whether it makes sense to increase the maximum speed on other highways.”

Not on the increased speed limit list was K-10. Steve Swartz, a spokesman for KDOT, said K-10 was too heavily traveled for 75 mph. “It’s such a heavy commuter route,” he said.

The changes were prompted by legislation approved in the recently completed legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Rep. Marvin Kleeb, R-Overland Park, drove the bill through the Legislature, hitting few bumps along the way.

Kleeb argued the increased limit would help the economy by making Kansas more attractive to vacation travelers and truckers. Most western states have already adopted 75 mph.

No groups opposed the measure. Jim Hanni, a spokesman for AAA in Kansas, said the bill seemed like a “done deal.”

Although he added, “There is nothing positive about it from a safety standpoint, and there is nothing positive about it from a fuel efficiency standpoint.”

The website fueleconomy.gov, run by the U.S. Department of Energy, states each 5 mph over 60 mph is the equivalent of paying an additional 30 cents per gallon of gas.

And the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety cites studies that show states that increased speed limits saw an increase in traffic fatalities.

“For practical reasons, there are limits to the amount of crash energy that can be managed by vehicles, restraint systems, and roadway hardware such as barriers and crash cushions. The higher the speed, the higher the likelihood that these limits will be exceeded in crashes, limiting the protection available for vehicle occupants,” according to the institute.

Swartz, with KDOT, said state officials are satisfied with the safety of raising the limit and had no qualms starting the increase right before a heavily traveled holiday.

“If we didn’t think these roads could handle it during holiday traffic they wouldn’t have been boosted up,” he said.

By Scott Rothschild

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More traffic delays should be expected this weekend

The Kansas Department of Transportation warns drivers to expect more traffic delays this weekend as work continues on the Interstate 35/Interstate 435 interchange.

Eastbound I-435 will be reduced to two open lanes from Lackman Road to I-35 and the southbound I-35 to eastbound I-435 ramp will be closed for bridge painting work around the clock beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 17. All lanes are expected to reopen at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 19.

While detours will be marked for the ramp closure, KDOT advises drivers to use an alternate route if possible. Closures may be viewed online and the project is expected to be complete by the end of July.

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KDOT warns drivers to expect weekend delays

The Kansas Department of Transportation will have the southbound US Highway 69 bridge ramp to eastbound I-435 closed for resurfacing work beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 10. The ramp should be reopened to all traffic at 5:30 a.m., Monday, June 13.

While a detour for the route will be marked, KDOT warns that drivers should expect major delays and suggests using an alternate route if possible. A map of the detour may be downloaded here.

Drivers should also expect delays as the northbound Interstate 35 ramp to westbound Interstate 435 and the left two lanes of westbound I-435 between Quivira Road and I-35 will be closed for line painting, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight. KDOT expects these traffic ways to be reopened at 10 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, weather permitting.

Constant updates for road closures and delays may be viewed at KDOT's website.

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I-435/I-35/K-10 interchange among improvements governor says will be funded

Governor Sam Brownback announced nine northeast Kansas highway expansion projects that have an economic impact of $8.8 billion during a press conference Friday in Kansas City, Kan.

The Kansas Department of Transportation released the following announcement about the projects:

The projects include the first two phases of the Johnson County Gateway project at Interstate 435/Interstate 35/Kansas Highway 10, one of the biggest bottlenecks in the state; and the long-discussed South Lawrence Trafficway.

The announcement at the Kansas Speedway concluded a four-day, five-city tour of the state to announce $1.8 billion in highway expansion projects under the transportation program T-WORKS, passed by the 2010 Kansas Legislature.

“These projects will create thousands of jobs and benefit local communities during construction,” Brownback said. “But more importantly for the overall success of our state, these projects will provide the infrastructure needed to create or take advantage of economic opportunities that will have a lasting impact on the Kansas economy.”

The projects announced this week range from the large, economic engine projects in the Kansas City area to safety improvements such as passing lanes, expanded shoulders and geometric improvements on rural stretches of Kansas highways. Brownback, accompanied by Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller, visited Wichita, Fort Scott, McPherson, Dodge City and Kansas City, Kan.

“The projects we’ve announced this week were widely supported by Kansans,” Miller said. “Over the last five years, we conducted dozens of public meetings around the state with thousands of Kansans and you told us what was important to you. Local input was a significant factor in the selection process of these projects, along with engineering considerations and economic impacts.”

Other projects announced Friday include the improvement of the I-70/K-7 interchange in Wyandotte County, a new I-35 interchange between Edgerton and Gardner considered critical to handle the expected increase in large trucks associated with the intermodal facility now under construction at Edgerton, and construction of a four-lane, two-mile expressway on U.S. 24 in Shawnee County.

Two of the projects mentioned by the governor Friday were first announced during a February event in Overland Park — expansion of U.S. 69 in Johnson County and expansion of K-18 in Riley County.

The full list of projects announced this week can be viewed on the T-WORKS website at ksdot.org/t-works.

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I-435/I-35/K-10 interchange among improvements governor says will be funded

Governor Sam Brownback announced nine northeast Kansas highway expansion projects that have an economic impact of $8.8 billion during a press conference Friday in Kansas City, Kan.

The Kansas Department of Transportation released the following announcement about the projects:

The projects include the first two phases of the Johnson County Gateway project at Interstate 435/Interstate 35/Kansas Highway 10, one of the biggest bottlenecks in the state; and the long-discussed South Lawrence Trafficway.

The announcement at the Kansas Speedway concluded a four-day, five-city tour of the state to announce $1.8 billion in highway expansion projects under the transportation program T-WORKS, passed by the 2010 Kansas Legislature.

“These projects will create thousands of jobs and benefit local communities during construction,” Brownback said. “But more importantly for the overall success of our state, these projects will provide the infrastructure needed to create or take advantage of economic opportunities that will have a lasting impact on the Kansas economy.”

The projects announced this week range from the large, economic engine projects in the Kansas City area to safety improvements such as passing lanes, expanded shoulders and geometric improvements on rural stretches of Kansas highways. Brownback, accompanied by Kansas Transportation Secretary Deb Miller, visited Wichita, Fort Scott, McPherson, Dodge City and Kansas City, Kan.

“The projects we’ve announced this week were widely supported by Kansans,” Miller said. “Over the last five years, we conducted dozens of public meetings around the state with thousands of Kansans and you told us what was important to you. Local input was a significant factor in the selection process of these projects, along with engineering considerations and economic impacts.”

Other projects announced Friday include the improvement of the I-70/K-7 interchange in Wyandotte County, a new I-35 interchange between Edgerton and Gardner considered critical to handle the expected increase in large trucks associated with the intermodal facility now under construction at Edgerton, and construction of a four-lane, two-mile expressway on U.S. 24 in Shawnee County.

Two of the projects mentioned by the governor Friday were first announced during a February event in Overland Park — expansion of U.S. 69 in Johnson County and expansion of K-18 in Riley County.

The full list of projects announced this week can be viewed on the T-WORKS website at ksdot.org/t-works.

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KDOT to begin work on I-35 interchange repair

The Kansas Department of Transportation is set to begin repairs to several areas of the Interstate 35/Interstate 435 interchange in Johnson County on Tuesday, May 31. Weather permitting, crews will primarily be working in this area during daylight hours, Monday-Friday.

At this point, crews will be repainting structural steel and repairing concrete surfaces on ramp bridges, the ramps will remain open at this time, according to a release sent out by KDOT Public Affairs Manager Kim Qualls. The ramps will be closed on Thursday, June 9, from 7 p.m. until the following morning at 5:30 to allow crews to paint those areas. Information on area traffic will be available daily at www.ksdot.org/kcmetro/laneclose.asp.

KDOT asks that drivers be alert and aware of work crews and obey warning signs, both for their own safety and the safety of road crews.

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KDOT to begin work on I-35 interchange repair

The Kansas Department of Transportation is set to begin repairs to several areas of the Interstate 35/Interstate 435 interchange in Johnson County on Tuesday, May 31. Weather permitting, crews will primarily be working in this area during daylight hours, Monday-Friday.

At this point, crews will be repainting structural steel and repairing concrete surfaces on ramp bridges, the ramps will remain open at this time, according to a release sent out by KDOT Public Affairs Manager Kim Qualls. The ramps will be closed on Thursday, June 9, from 7 p.m. until the following morning at 5:30 to allow crews to paint those areas. Information on area traffic will be available daily at www.ksdot.org/kcmetro/laneclose.asp.

KDOT asks that drivers be alert and aware of work crews and obey warning signs, both for their own safety and the safety of road crews.

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Area officials support K-10 cable barriers at meeting

The Kansas Department of Transportation’s secretary Thursday promised to work with area leaders to get input in the study of the safety of Kansas Highway 10 in the wake of last month’s double fatality near Eudora’s Church Street interchange.

“I think working with a group of local officials, advised by law enforcement, adding in some citizens, it’s just a helpful way, I think, to make a decision,” KDOT Secretary Deb Miller said after a Thursday meeting with officials from Eudora, Lawrence, Douglas County and other cities.

After a 90-minute meeting, Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson said he would invite city officials along K-10, including from Lawrence and De Soto, to have one person participate in an advisory group to KDOT as it studies whether to install cable median barriers from Lawrence east to Interstate 435 in Johnson County.

Gov. Sam Brownback — after receiving a letter from Hopson last month — directed Miller to reopen a 2008 study in which KDOT concluded cable median barriers weren’t yet warranted on K-10.

“I would like to see the cable barrier installed or some type of barrier,” Hopson said. “I also asked that the information from a previous study be updated. We want to mainly get all of the information we can.”

KDOT leaders did say during the meeting they expected to finish by the end of the year a project to widen the shoulders and add rumble strips to K-10 in Douglas County, although proponents of the cable barriers have said they want more. They also said the process is moving too slowly.

Outside Thursday’s meeting, about 70 people participated in a candlelight vigil for 5-year-old Cainan Shutt who died in the April 16 crash. An eastbound Toyota Camry driven by 24-year-old Ryan Pittman of Eudora crossed over the median and collided head-on with the minivan Cainan was riding in with his grandparents and 2-year-old sister, Courtlynn, who was also injured.

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers have said drug use and inattention by Pittman, who also died, contributed to the crash, the second cross-median crash along the stretch since August.

As Hopson, Miller and deputy KDOT secretary Jerry Younger spoke to reporters in a gazebo after the meeting at the Eudora Community Center, Cainan’s mother, Ali Shutt, at one point made a tearful plea to Miller and said the process was dragging on.

“What’s the number? If we’re waiting for a number of people to die before we make the highways safe, what else do we need to do?” Shutt said later. “This to me was what we’ve already heard, and it was not enough.”

Thursday’s meeting included city and county officials from along the corridor, including Lawrence public works Director Chuck Soules, Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug, Sheriff Ken McGovern, Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman and county engineer Keith Browning.

Miller and Younger said Thursday the stretch of K-10 has had 11 fatalities resulting from 10 cross-median crashes since 2000, compared statewide with 104 fatalities from 89 cross-median crashes on four-lane highways. They have also said the state must consider the number of accidents that could occur with vehicles crashing into a cable barrier that otherwise would not have happened because drivers could correct their paths in the 60-foot-wide median.

But some area officials at the meeting said KDOT needed to take a closer look at the issue and the numbers. Hopson, Eudora’s mayor, was worried the highway might have become more dangerous since the 2008 study because there were two fatality cross-median crashes since August.

“No one around this table has the answer,” Hopson said. “It’s going to take all of us to figure this out.”

By George Diepenbrock

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