News Releases

 

This information has been released by either the Kansas Turnpike Authority or are Kansas Highway Patrol releases which pertain to Troop G. The most recent releases are at the top of the page.


KTA announces completion of widening project, upcoming Lawrence River Bridge and Plaza Improvement project
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

TOPEKA – The Kansas Turnpike Authority is proud to announce the completion of its Roadway Widening project between East Topeka and Lecompton. This project, which added one lane in each direction, began in late 2003. Last week, construction crews completed the final tasks of the widening, adding rumble strips to the shoulders of the roadway.

For the past three years, KTA engineering crews worked diligently with contractors to keep this project on schedule and minimize customer inconvenience.

To do this, the KTA used proven, customer-friendly solutions such as rolling road blocks instead of road closures.

“A good portion of the work was completed without disrupting the flow of traffic,” said KTA President/CEO Michael L. Johnston.

The KTA plans to use these same customer service principles throughout the next large project: the Kansas River Bridges and Plaza Improvement Project.

This project involves the replacement of the 2,300-foot double bridge over the Kansas River near Lawrence and improvements to toll plazas at both East and West Lawrence locations. The cost for this project will be approximately $140 million, the same amount it cost to build the entire 236-mile Turnpike in the mid-1950s.

While much of the work will be done without interfering with traffic, changes in traffic movements will be unavoidable. Some of the inconveniences customers can expect are:

  • Limited westbound access to and from Plaza 202 for approximately 8 months.
  • No access to and from Plaza 204 for approximately 8 months.
  • Minor mainline traffic delays.
  • Traffic shifts and changes.
  • Width restrictions.

To aid in the movement of traffic in the Lawrence area during construction, the KTA is taking two initial steps:

  • Adding an additional lane at Plaza 197
  • Including language in the project’s contract to ensure only one Lawrence interchange closes at a time.

“This project will be a challenge during construction but when it’s finished, it will better serve our customers and improve access between East and West Lawrence,” Johnston said. “Although we understand that this is going to affect traffic, we hope that the advanced notice allows our customers and other members of the community time to prepare for the upcoming changes.”

The completed Kansas River Bridge and Plaza Improvement Project will include two new 2,300-foot bridges built to current construction specifications, safety enhancements such as wider shoulders on the bridge, realigned approach ramps and acceleration lanes to and from the plazas, and an additional entry and exit lane at the new Plaza 204.

Customers who use the Turnpike regularly are encouraged to sign up for K-TAG, the Turnpike’s electronic toll collection program, to help minimize delays and keep traffic moving at toll plazas during construction.

For more information about this project, visit the Widening project web site at www.widerride.com.


Westbound traffic open to two lanes in widening area
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Kansas Turnpike roadway between MP 189.5 and 184 Westbound is back open
to two lanes. The roadway in this area was closed to one lane early
Wednesday morning for overlay work as part of the widening project.

Westbound traffic reduced to one lane in widening area
Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Kansas Turnpike roadway between MP 189.5 to 184 Westbound will be reduced to one lane of traffic between Lawrence and Topeka beginning at 8:30 AM on Wednesday, April 18. The Westbound roadway in this area will remain reduced until Thursday, April 19 in the late afternoon. Drivers are asked to use extra caution while traveling in this area for the safety of drivers and construction crews.


Transcript of Michael Johnston's comments to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Thank you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to offer comments about SB 369. 

I am appearing here today to register our strong and unequivocal opposition to Sections 1 through 6 of this measure.  The remaining sections of the bill are not applicable to the Kansas Turnpike so I offer no comments concerning those provisions.  SB 369 would require multiple toll increases and the diversion of revenue from those toll increases to service debt issued by the state, the proceeds of which would be used for repairs at our Regents institutions.  Our position is very simple and clear----user fee revenue from Turnpike customers should remain with the Turnpike and be used exclusively for the operation and maintenance of the Turnpike for the benefit of those customers.  That user fee concept and exclusive use test was deliberately made part of the Turnpike enabling act in 1953.  That principle has served this state and Turnpike customers well for now over 50 years.  While we certainly acknowledge the serious maintenance problems SB 369 was designed to address, we don’t believe Turnpike customers should be asked to pay part of the cost of those repairs.

Beyond our strong philosophical objections to our customers being asked to pay for anything unrelated to the Turnpike itself, SB 369 creates very real problems for the Turnpike’s future.  Since the Turnpike’s current debt must be defeased before the state can lawfully load more debt to its burden, that defeasance must be done by a date certain, done on a partially taxable basis, and done without regard to market conditions---hardly a recipe for lower costs.  Moreover, since SB 369 effectively more than doubles the Turnpike debt service obligation, it will certainly raise the cost and could threaten the availability of capital the Turnpike will need in the future.  In addition, the 25% of total toll revenue that SB 369 requires to be remitted to the state in 2014 and beyond will be well in excess of the revenue necessary to service the $300M in debt that is provided in the measure.  Worse yet, under the provisions of the bill, the payments to the state from the Turnpike go on forever and don’t stop when the $300M debt is repaid. 

Finally, our traffic engineering consultant, Vollmer Associates LLC, estimates that toll increases provided in SB 369, together with planned Turnpike increases, will result in total Turnpike traffic declining from 32,598,000 in 2006 to 31,486,000 in 2014, the year  the final toll increase under the bill would be implemented.  Put another way, compounded toll increases from 2007-2014 of 48% are estimated to produce only 30% in increased revenue---a very inefficient arrangement.  Make no mistake, passing SB 369 would be a very negative and ominous addition to the Turnpike’s future.  

Thank you for your attention.  We respectfully request that Sections 1 through 6 or SB 369 be stricken.


Governor announces proposal to fund university repairs
Originally released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Governor Sebelius announced this morning a proposal to fund the hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs to public university structures.

"As I understand it, one of the key elements in the Governor's proposal is the sale of $300 million in bonds to be repaid from a new surcharge to be levied against Kansas Turnpike Authority customers," said Michael Johnston, KTA President/CEO.

This surcharge, to be funded from higher tolls on Turnpike customers, would for the first time in its history break faith with the user-fee concept that has been part of the legal tradition of the Kansas Turnpike throughout its 50-year history.

"While I have enormous professional respect for Governor Sebelius, and have known her for 25 years, I am, nonetheless, very disappointed that the Governor has turned to Turnpike customers to correct a problem they did not cause and for which they should not be held responsible," Johnston said. "Naturally, I will continue to monitor the situation and earnestly hope that the Governor and Legislature find a more equitable solution to the important needs of our state."


K-10 closed Friday, May 12 due to cycling race

Highway K-10 southbound from the Lecompton interchange (MP 197) will be closed Friday, May 12 from 8 a.m. to 12 noon due to the USA Cycling National Collegiate Road Championships being held in the Lawrence area. Southbound K-10 traffic should exit at the West Lawrence interchange (MP 202).

For more information regarding the event, please visit www.kucycling.com.


KTA celebrates Interstate connections
Originally released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

BRAMAN, Okla. - The Kansas Turnpike Authority, in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the City of Braman, will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Interstate and the connection between Kansas and Oklahoma on Friday, April 21, 2006.

A special ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. at the I-35/US-177 Exit in Braman. The event will include remarks from Oklahoma area legislators, the Mayor of Braman, and representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, ODOT, KTA, and the Kaw Nation. Former Oklahoma Governor George Nigh will also be present to commemorate his April 22, 1958, appearance at the original dedication for this section of I-35 in North Oklahoma - Oklahoma's first piece of interstate and the final connection with the Kansas Turnpike.

This portion of interstate was also one of the nation's first interstate connections between two states. The event will feature photos of the 1958 dedication and construction project provided by KTA, as well as commemorative material from farmer Amos Switzer provided by family members. Switzer owned the property into which cars dead-ended from the Kansas Turnpike prior to any connecting roadway in Oklahoma. An aerial photo of the roadway and field was featured on the cover of "Life" magazine in 1957. Switzer's story is featured in the book Paving the Way: Asphalt in America by national author Dan McNichol.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority broke ground December 31, 1954, prior to the birth of the Interstate System. It opened for business on October 25, 1956, but ended in a field at the Oklahoma/Kansas border. Throughout its nearly 50 years in business, the roadway has never used any federal or state tax monies. In fact, the vast majority of funding for the Kansas Turnpike comes from user fees. The opening of an Oklahoma connection in 1958, and the subsequent connection to Oklahoma City in the early 1960s, spurred traffic growth in Kansas and linked Oklahoma and Southern states to the Midwest.

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Editor's note: To attend this event, use I-35 South and take exit 231 in Oklahoma. Enter the Kaw Nation's Kanza Travel Stop in Braman on the east side of I-35 and park in the motel parking lot between the travel stop and the interstate. Braman is approximately 45 minutes south of Wichita.

Scheduled speakers include:
Master of Ceremonies, Braman Mayor Jerry Johnston
Representative Dale Dewitt, Braman, OK
Senator David Myers, Ponca City, OK
Kaw Nation Tribal Leaders
Michael Johnston, Kansas Turnpike Authority President/CEO
Gary Corino, Federal Highway Administration
Phil Tomlinson, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation
Gary Ridley, ODOT Director


KTA to build new interchange near Tonganoxie
Originally released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Friday, February 24, 2006

The Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) has made a decision to proceed with building a new Turnpike Interchange at Milepost 212 in Leavenworth County. The decision to add this new interchange was in response to a request from the Leavenworth County Commission that the Turnpike consider building a new interchange at County Road 1 in Leavenworth County to serve the area.

In the spring of 2005, the Commission approached the KTA and indicated that they were asking voters in Leavenworth County to extend a local countywide sales tax that was set to expire. The extended sales tax could be used for several infrastructure projects, including upgrading County Road 1, if the KTA would agree to construct an interchange at Milepost 212. The KTA agreed to look carefully at that location for an interchange if the ballot measure passed. The sales tax extension was approved on the April 2005 ballot and the Turnpike began the necessary traffic analysis to determine whether the interchange was feasible. The Kansas Turnpike Authority is pleased that the analysis does show that the proposed interchange is a financially sound investment and is excited about making the Turnpike roadway an alternative travel choice to more customers.

The KTA also wishes to recognize the leadership of the Leavenworth County Commission in pursuing this project and taking the necessary steps to make the project possible. Under the proposed arrangement, Leavenworth County will be responsible for the cost of upgrading 3 miles of County Road 1 between Tonganoxie and the new interchange, while the Turnpike will be responsible for the cost of constructing the new interchange. KTA staff will now begin working with officials from Leavenworth County to work out the details on moving the project forward.


Lane changes planned for widening project
Originally released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Due to construction on the Kansas Turnpike Authority's ongoing widening project between Topeka and Lecompton, eastbound lane changes will occur this week. Traffic will be shifted to the outside two lanes eastbound between milepost 195 and milepost 189, weather permitting. To prepare for this lane change, starting today, January 3rd, eastbound traffic will be restricted to one lane between mileposts 193 and 195 but should be open for two-lane traffic by the weekend. Travelers should watch for the right lane to be closed through this area.

Construction phasing and traffic changes will continue until the completion of the widening project in mid 2007. Please tune to 1610 AM for new information or visit the widening website at www.widerride.com.


KTA, KDOT to conduct travel surveys
Originally released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Kansas Turnpike Authority in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Transportation will conduct travel surveys on July 12 and 13 on US 24/40 both at the Turnpike intersection north of Lawrence and within Tonganoxie.

Motorists will be randomly stopped at the two intersections and asked trip-related information, including their origin, destination, trip frequency and general purpose of travel. The survey will be conducted between 7.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. The survey should last approximately one minute.

Survey data will help determine current travel patterns within and through Leavenworth County and will aid in the determination of the feasibility of a potential new Turnpike interchange within Leavenworth County.


Purple Heart Trail dedicated on Kansas Turnpike
Originally released by the Kansas Department of Transportation
Friday, July 1, 2005

A sign to be placed at the East Topeka Service Area, milepost 188, of the Kansas Turnpike will give holiday travelers something extra to contemplate as they head to Independence Day celebrations this weekend.

The sign designates the Interstate highways in the state the “Purple Heart Trail in Kansas” and honors all members of the U.S.military who have been wounded or killed in combat. The sign will be unveiled and the trail officially dedicated during a ceremony Friday morning at the service area.

The Kansastrail is part of the national Purple Heart Trail, which parallels the Interstate highway system. The designation does not replace existing names or tributes. The trail is a project of The Military Order of the Purple Heart.

A total of 32 signs – six along the Turnpike and 26 along other Interstates in Kansas, will be made by the Kansas Department of Transportation and placed in rest areas by KDOT and KTA crews. Each will be dedicated to a Kansan who was either wounded or killed in combat. The sign that will be unveiled Friday is dedicated to 1st Lt. Michael L. Gandy, a DexterHigh Schoolgraduate who was killed March 29, 1968, in Vietnam. His parents, Bill and Alene Lewis of Everett, Wash., will attend Friday’s ceremony.

Speakers at the ceremony, which begins at 10:30 a.m., include KDOT Secretary Deb Miller; retired Brig. Gen. Stan Cherrie, a Purple Heart recipient from Leavenworth; retired Lt. Col. Ray Rhodd, senior vice commander the Kansas Military Order of the Purple Heart; KTA Board Chairman Mary E. Turkington; and Lt. Col. Larry Parrish, full-time support chaplain for the Kansas National Guard.

The Kansas Military Order of the Purple Heart is paying for the signs, which cost $97 each.

On May 13, 2003, Governor Kathleen Sebelius proclaimed the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways in Kansasthe “Purple Heart Trail in Kansas.”

KTA officials are expecting the usual holiday increase in traffic along the Turnpike this weekend and urge all motorists to drive safely and utilize the rest areas. For traveler information along the turnpike and state highways, call 511 or click on http://511.ksdot.org. By calling “511” from anywhere in Kansasor 1-866-511-KDOT (5368) elsewhere in the U.S., travelers can get route-specific road conditions, weather, and road closure information 24 hours a day. Callers are encouraged to call 511 from their landline or cellular phones before they travel or when they are not driving.


Fatality Accident
Monday, April 4, 2005

Shortly after 1:35 p.m. this afternoon KTA Dispatch received several cell phone calls from customers reporting a white vehicle traveling southbound between 70 and 80 mph, in the northbound lanes of traffic near Milepost 39.

The driver of a 2003 Ford pickup, who is identified as 72 year old male, LAVERNE ROY, of Wichita, Kansas, entered the Turnpike and traveled southbound in the northbound lanes from Plaza 42. Roy was traveling alone in the vehicle.

At Milepost 39.3 Roy's vehicle forced a northbound 2001 Honda off the roadway and the Honda rolled one time. The driver of the Honda, 35-year-old Rebecca Jones of Oxford, Kansas, was injured and transported to Wesley Hospital.

The Roy vehicle continued southbound and at Milepost 37.8, it struck a northbound 2002 Dodge pickup truck towing a trailer with llamas as cargo. The vehicles struck head on blocking both northbound lanes of traffic. The Dodge pickup truck was driven by 37-year-old CRAIG WILKINS of Geneva, Nebraska. His wife, Stacy and 5-year twin sons, Dakota and Jace, were passengers in the Dodge.

Craig Wilkins and his son Jace were fatally injured as a result of the collision. Stacy and Dakota Wilkins are currently in Wesley Hospital. Laverne Roy was also fatally injured in the accident.

A third accident occurred when another northbound vehicle attempted to avoid the accident scene and rolled. The driver, 62-year-old Carlton Wolfe of Tonkawa, Oklahoma, was not seriously injured.

For additional information contact the Kansas Turnpike Authority, 316-682-4537.


Troopers remind motorists to "slow down & move over"
Monday, January 31, 2005

After three law enforcement officers were struck on the side of the road during three different incidents this past weekend, Superintendent of the Kansas Highway Patrol, Colonel William Seck, is reminding motorists that it is Kansas' law to "slow down and move over" as part of their obligation to "shoulder responsibility" for the safety of emergency workers on Kansas' roadways. Violation of two traffic laws designed to protect law enforcement officers and other emergency workers is not only very dangerous but also carries strong penalties.

The Kansas Legislature passed laws during the 2000 session to help protect the lives of law enforcement officers and other emergency responders routinely working alongside Kansas' roadways. These laws require drivers traveling on multi-lane roadways and who are approaching a stationary emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights to slow down and move over if it is safe to do so. They also prohibit drivers traveling on two lane roadways from overtaking or passing another vehicle within 100 feet of a stopped emergency vehicle displaying flashing warning lights.

Colonel Seck said, "While we were lucky this past weekend that these officers were not severely injured, it is a sober reminder to slow down and move away to protect the emergency worker. I encourage motorists to also make it a safe driving habit by moving away from all vehicles and pedestrians on the side of the road. Help us do our job protecting you by protecting us."

During the first year of implementation of the laws, Kansas' law enforcement officers stopped violators and issued warnings as set forth by statute. This grace period was intended to allow for public education. However, since July 1, 2001, violations can result in a traffic conviction and penalties of $180 plus court costs per violation.

In an effort to educate the motoring public about this hazard and the laws to prevent it, television and radio public service announcements on the topic have also aired statewide. In addition, KDOT and the Kansas Turnpike Authority have erected signs along interstate highways to educate motorists entering Kansas.


KTA announces 5 percent toll increase
Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Tolls on the Kansas Turnpike will increase by an average of five percent August 1, 2004. While the increase in tolls will average five percent, fares may vary due to rounding. The toll increase is necessary to maintain sound financial condition while preparing for future capital needs.

In 2001, HNTB Corporation, consulting engineers, was engaged to examine the long-term needs of the Turnpike. In that study, HNTB identified two major projects. First, in order to improve and maintain the level of service our customers enjoy in the East Topeka to Lecompton corridor, additional capacity will be necessary. The project will add one lane in each direction between those two points and is expected to cost $92.3 million. The second project, replacing the bridges over the Kansas River near Lawrence by 2012, together with improvements at our East and West Lawrence Interchanges, is expected to cost approximately $125 million.

In the near 50-year history of the Turnpike, there have only been six increases in fares. Even with the increase, the overall toll structure continues to be below the average of other toll roads in the nation.

"Just as was the case with the substantial investment we made in our K-TAG electronic toll collection program that has placed transponders in the windshields of nearly 170,000 vehicles, this toll increase will enable us to make targeted investments for service and safety moving forward," said KTA President / CEO Michael L. Johnston.

View a .pdf file of the new toll fares.


KHP mobilizes enforcement of seatbelt laws
Troopers to motorists: "Click it, or ticket!"
Friday, May 14, 2004

The Kansas Highway Patrol will soon participate in the national Click It or Ticket and Buckle Up America! Week campaigns from May 24 through June 6. Joining more than 12,000 law enforcement officers across the nation, Kansas troopers and local law enforcement will concentrate on enforcing the state’s seatbelt and child passenger safety laws. The campaign message should be clear: If you aren’t wearing a seatbelt and you are stopped for another violation and given a ticket for that violation, you will be issued two tickets.

The campaigns include the Memorial holiday weekend, which traditionally kicks off the busy summer travel season. During this period, drivers should expect congestion from heavy traffic and road construction. According to the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), three people tragically lost their lives and 191 were injured in motor vehicle crashes on Kansas’ roadways during the 2003 Memorial holiday weekend.

Patrol Superintendent Colonel William Seck said, “We are reminding everyone on the road to buckle up—every trip, every time. Driving or riding unrestrained is never worth the risk of a ticket, or worse, a life. We will show zero tolerance for anyone not wearing a safety belt. Issuing tickets isn’t fun, but ultimately, we are trying to save lives.”

Kansas’ law requires all children under the age of four to be secured in approved child safety seats and all children age four and under 14 to wear safety belts. Law enforcement officers may stop and cite drivers whenever they see children unrestrained. Unbuckled adults who are seated in the front seat may be cited and fined when they are stopped and cited for other traffic violations.

Thanks to overtime funding from KDOT’s Special Traffic Enforcement Program, or STEP, the Patrol will be able to place additional troopers on Kansas’ highways to focus on enforcing occupant protection laws during the campaigns. Last year, troopers issued 304 seatbelt citations and 96 child restraint citations during the 78-hour Memorial holiday reporting period alone.

This year’s Click It or Ticket and Buckle Up America! Week will emphasize safety for teens and young adults because motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15 to 34 in the U.S. For the past several years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has helped states implement Click It or Ticket programs, aiding law enforcement agencies in conducting intensive, high-publicity safety belt enforcement mobilizations. Combined with paid advertising and the support of government agencies, local schools, community organizations and others, these efforts create dramatic increases in seatbelt use. Safety belts save an estimated 14,000 lives each year and save about $50 billion in medical care, lost productivity, and other injury-related costs nationwide.

“The Click It or Ticket efforts help save lives,’’ said NHTSA Administrator Jeffery Runge. “Through the combined efforts of law enforcement, advertising and community support, we help drive up safety belt use and make our nation’s roads safer.”

Colonel Seck added, “High visibility enforcement saves lives. Our goal is to make sure all passengers and drivers know they face higher risks if they don’t buckle up—a higher risk getting a ticket and higher risks of serious injury or death."

For more information, visit http://www.ksdot.org/offtransinfo/News04/Click_it_or_Ticket.htm or http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/


KTA unveils new, detailed Knute Rockne memorial
Monday, March 8, 2004

Wichita, Kansas… Seventy-three years ago, Knute Rockne was making plans to fly to California for a business meeting. By the end of the month, the nation was mourning the death of the legendary Notre Dame football coach.

On the morning of March 31, 1931, Knute Rockne boarded a plane in Kansas City. The plane was scheduled to make three stops for mail delivery and pick-up before reaching its California destination. Before it could make even the first of those stops, however, the plane crashed in a field outside of Cottonwood Falls, Kan., killing all eight aboard.
The most famous passenger was, of course, Knute Rockne.

On March 31, 2004 - the 73rd anniversary of the crash - the Kansas Turnpike Authority will celebrate Rockne's life as a player, coach and man with an unveiling of a new memorial at 10 a.m at the Matfield Green Service Area. This unveiling will include a welcome by Turnpike President/CEO Michael Johnston, an address by College Football Hall of Fame Executive Director Bernie Kish, and a tour through the new memorial led by members of the Rockne family. The College Football Hall of Fame will also have Rockne memorabilia on display in their state-of-the-art RV Road Show traveling museum.

The new memorial occupies 175 sq. ft. inside the new facility at the Matfield Green Service Area at milepost 97 on the Kansas Turnpike. The memorial, which features large photographic panels describing various aspects of Rockne's life, was designed by the Greteman Group of Wichita. Another special feature of the memorial is a life-sized cut-out of Knute Rockne, created by Pannier Graphics, and audio clips from some of his famous motivational speeches.

The public is invited to attend the unveiling. Those who wish to attend can call 316-682-4537 ext. 2272 for more information.

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Editor's Note: Please join us for a media reception at 9 a.m. Please call for complete media kit.


KTA hosts two important events
Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Wichita, Kansas… The Kansas Turnpike Authority announces two important events to be held on Thursday, November 20, 2003, at the Matfield Green Service Area located at milepost 97 on the Kansas Turnpike.

A Recognition of Heroism Ceremony will honor the valiant efforts of travelers Albert A. Larsen from Fort Worth, Texas, and Ryan Lane from Lawrence, Kan., as well as all the emergency personnel who responded to the Jacob Creek Flood over Labor Day weekend. Larsen died trying to save others during the flood. The Recognition of Heroism will include the unveiling of plans for a memorial park to commemorate the lives of those affected by the flood. The Kansas Highway Patrol will also honor Larsen and Lane with Honorary Trooper Awards. Mrs. Elizabeth-Anne Larsen will accept her late husband's award.

Dignitaries including Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Colonel William Seck, flood survivors and families, and KTA board members will be in attendance.

This ceremony will begin promptly at 9 a.m. and will be followed by a breakfast reception courtesy of McDonald's and the franchisers Craig and Kay Shandler. Following the reception, the KTA will celebrate the grand opening of this new facility with McDonald's and Phillips 66 with a brief ceremony and ribbon cutting beginning at 10 a.m.

The Matfield Green Service Area facility is similar to the recently opened facility at the Towanda Service Area. One building houses the Phillips 66 convenience store and retail fuel outlet, a McDonald's restaurant, a common area, large restrooms, family restrooms, weather information, and an ATM. Coming in March, the KTA will be opening an expanded Knute Rockne memorial area inside the new facility. Rockne was killed in an airplane crash in 1931 in a field not far from the service area.

The McDonald's at the Matfield Green Service Area, operated by Craig and Kay Shandler, boasts a Kansas theme of Oasis on the Prairie, complete with a water-pumping windmill.

For more information about these two events or about the service area facility, contact Lisa Callahan.

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Editor's Note: Below is a detailed schedule of events for the morning of November 20.

Recognition of Heroism Ceremony and Matfield Green Grand Opening
Thursday - November 20, 2003

9 a.m. Recognition of Heroism
Welcome
- Michael Johnston,President/CEO of the
Kansas Turnpike Authority

Recognition of Flood Survivors
- Mary Turkington, KTA Board Chairman
Helen Foster
William Gorman
Sara Long
Natasha King
Robert Rogers
Scott and Kim Riddle and their two-year-old son, James
James Bohr

Recognition of Heroism: Albert A. Larsen
- Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius

Description of Park and Monument
- Lisa Callahan, KTA Director of Public Relations

Honorary Trooper presentations
- Colonel William Seck,
Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent

Recognition of Effort
- Capt. John Walters, Troop G Commander

Reception
- Courtesy of McDonald's

10 a.m. Grand Opening Ceremonies
Welcome and Project Information
- Michael Johnston

Introduction of McDonald's and Phillips 66 partners
- Michael Johnston
Craig & Kay Shandler, McDonald's operators
Bruce Vorderstrasse, Phillips representative

Introduction of Dignitaries
- Mary Turkington

Flinthills Primary students from Cassoday sing a song created for this special occasion.

Ribbon Cutting


Second Flood Review Committee meeting held Thursday, Sept. 25
Prepared statement from KTA President/CEO Michael L. Johnston to the Review Committee and Authority Board
September 25, 2003

As all of you now know, we were witness to a flash flooding event at MP 116 on the Kansas Turnpike in the early evening hours of August 30, 2003. This tragic and unfortunate event took the lives of six persons, four of whom were children. I know all of you join me in expressing once again our sincere condolences to Robert Rogers, who lost his wife and four children, as well as Elizabeth-Anne Larsen, who lost her husband Albert. Albert Larsen, we now know, at the time of his death was actively engaged in helping others escape from the flood. Selfless courage is the only way I know to describe his actions that frightening night.

Before I move on to discuss other elements of our work since the flood, I wanted to take a moment and acknowledge for the record the work, sometimes very dangerous work, of all the emergency responders who worked tirelessly that Saturday night in whatever role they were asked to play. Their collective work, often overlooked and under appreciated, should not be a footnote to the memory of this tragedy. It should be a source of enormous pride and celebration that so many people, almost without a second thought, put themselves in harms way in service to others.

Exhibit A provides a listing of all the groups and organizations that provided valuable assistance with this event.
As a result of the request from Governor Sebelius for Colonel Seck, Secretary Miller, and myself to review this event, and in an effort make certain the Turnpike Authority remains fully informed, I asked Colonel Seck and Chairman Turkington to convene their respective groups jointly for the purpose of receiving the material I will talk about shortly. Because of my unique responsibilities with respect to both groups, I thought this format would provide a workable framework to satisfy the objectives of all parties involved. In addition, because this tragedy has attracted such widespread media attention, this format can also serve as a way for the public release of this additional information.

Introduction to VIDEO SLIDE
Trooper McCune's onboard video camera

The information I am about to discuss supplements the meteorological and hydrological information already in the public record. I am today releasing "Jacob Creek Technical Report" prepared by HNTB Corporation, the Turnpike's consulting engineer, as well as material assembled in an effort to provide information on how this event developed and the scores of emergency response elements involved when this flood event became fully manifest. I will also discuss the Emergency Radio Communications log.

Let me first talk about the HNTB report.

HNTB Report Slide 5

We asked HNTB to answer these three basic questions: Slide 6

1. What caused the extreme flooding event over the Turnpike on August 30?
2. What role, if any, did the culverts and drainage system play in the flooding?
3. What role, if any, did the median safety barrier play in the flooding?


Slide 7 Question 1: What caused the extreme flooding event of August 30, 2003

Slide 8
· 12 inches of rain fell over three days (Thurs. - Sat.)
· Torrential rain fell Saturday night from 6:45 - 9:30 p.m.
· Possible aside, reference hurricane Isabel rainfall (6-8 inches of Rainfall in 24 hours)

Slide 9 Chart of extreme flood
· Nearly 7 inches of the 12 inches of rain fell between 6 and 9 p.m. that Saturday night
· At times, rainfall rates exceeded 5 inches per hour

Slide 10
USGS measurement of high water indicates 4300 cfs flow = 500yr storm
· A flow of 4300 cfs = moving 32,000 gallons of water per second
· A flow of 4300 cfs = moving a swimming pool full of water per second that's 5 feet deep, 20 feet wide and 43 feet long each second

Slide 11 "What role, if any, did the culverts and drainage system play in the flooding?"

Very soon after the flooding event occurred, I asked Tom Wurdeman, the Turnpike's Chief Engineer, to review the original (1955) design calculations for the drainage structure at MP 116. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Wurdeman was able to find the relevant 1955 records and confirmed to me that the culvert design appeared to conform to the applicable standards the designer intended to satisfy. I then asked Mr. Wurdeman to confirm his preliminary analysis with HNTB.

In an initial conversation between Mr. Wurdeman and Mr. Tom Poer from the HNTB staff, a discrepancy was discovered on the number of acres in the Jacob Creek drainage basin that was used by the designer in 1955 and what the currently available USGS (United States Geological Survey) maps show as the size of the basin. The original calculations made by the designer show a drainage area to be served by the culvert at MP 116 of 690 acres. This resulted in the design of the 7' x 7' culvert that is currently in place at the location of the flood.

The current USGS maps, obviously not available to the designer in 1955, show a drainage area for that basin of 1,220 acres. If the designer had used that area in 1955, a 12' x 8' culvert likely would have been provided. Simply put, we do not know what calculations or maps the designer used in 1955 to determine the drainage basin. HNTB's report analyzes the role, if any, the culvert and drainage system in that area played in the flooding.

Slide 8
· Jacob Creek is the lowest point in this area
· The numbers correlate to photographs taken at site five days after flood and included in appendix of report

Slide 9
· 7' x 7' box culvert designed for 690 acre drainage area
· Based on current modern mapping, the 7' x 7' box culvert at Jacob Creek serves 1,220 acres

Slide 10
· Based upon measurements using current USGS topographic maps, not available in 1955, a 12-foot x 8-foot culvert would be consistent with the design criteria of that time.
· The size of culvert needed to carry 4,300 cfs would be three 10 foot x 8 foot culverts … huge, cost prohibitive … basically a bridge
· House in Kansas analogy: will you build a house to withstand a Tornado?

Slide 11
· In both scenarios, the total flow of water is the same.

Slide 12
And I also asked them to look at what role, if any, did the median safety barrier play in the flooding?

Slide 13
· To give you a better understanding of how little difference a larger box would have made in the depth of the water over the roadway, we have prepared a life-size model.
o Barrier height (bottom)
o Actual height (top)
o Height for 12x8 box (middle line)
o To really put this in perspective, you should also realize that where I am standing now is 19 feet above the bottom of the culvert which is normally dry.

Slide 14
· If barrier was not there, 2 to 2 ½ feet of water would have flowed over roadway
· Can't speculate on how drivers and vehicles would've reacted or how much faster the water velocity would have been

Slide 15
What caused the extreme flooding?
The rainstorm at Jacob Creek was an extreme flooding event - estimated to be a 500-year flood.

Slide 16
What role, if any, did the culverts and drainage system play in the flooding?
The peak flow of the flood far exceeded the 7' x 7' culvert capacity at Jacob Creek and resulted in approximately 4½ feet of water over the roadway.

The peak flow also would have exceeded the capacity of a 12' by 8' culvert, and would have sent a little more than 4' of water over the roadway.

Slide 17
What role, if any, did the median safety barrier play in the flooding?
Without the median safety barrier, the flood would have resulted in approximately 2 ½ feet of water over the roadway.

The second body of information I am presenting today deals with various elements of the response to the flooding emergency on that Saturday evening. The logs we are releasing deal with the volume of radio traffic between our KTA dispatch center and the many people involved in the response to the flooding we were experiencing at MP 116. In addition, a summary of KTA employee cell phone records is also included that shows the volume of cell phone traffic that took place as a result of this event.

We also have included the number of phone calls made and received in our dispatch center, by hour, throughout this event.

Still yet, in trying to get an accurate picture of the "real world" our dispatchers see during the many emergencies they are asked to manage, keep in mind that during this entire emergency the Turnpike remained open to thousands of other travelers who bring with them their own demands on our dispatch center. Though it is easy to think about this flooding event in isolation, we are not given that luxury since we are still serving thousands of other travelers on the other parts of our roadway.

Finally, as a result of the format of this information, I want to add a note of caution about its use. This information is in summary form and not a verbatim transcript of the radio traffic or the many phone calls that make up the record. As a result, the context of some of the information is sometimes difficult to determine and for that reason we suggest caution. We are certainly willing to work with anyone in the media that may wish to listen to the actual radio traffic from that Saturday evening in an effort to more fully understand what was transpiring throughout this event.

The last thing I want to talk about today concerns what we are doing in the aftermath of this flooding event. Even though, as the facts clearly establish, this tragedy was spawned by an unusually rare weather occurrence, we are nonetheless looking at several things that may give us better and more timely information concerning the impact adverse weather events may have on our roadway going forward.

· First, we are evaluating enhanced privately provided weather forecasting information that is now available for the full range of adverse weather events. This forecasting information, for inclement conditions for all weather seasons, is now available to us on a milepost specific basis.

· In addition, GPS-based handheld weather monitoring devices are also now available that may be a useful resource to some of our staff in managing weather's impact on our operations.

· We are also evaluating remote stream water elevation sensing devices, which may be helpful at several locations on the Turnpike where water has reached or nearly reached the roadway in the past. These devices are designed to automatically trigger an alarm to our dispatch center under certain preset conditions.

Taken all together, in addition to other information that may come to our attention as we analyze our operations going forward, these options may provide to us a broader set of weather tools to help us manage the difficult and dangerous weather events that history tells will be part of the Turnpike's future.

It also should be noted that the management and staff of the KTA dispatch center will be reviewing their procedures in light of their emergency role in how the flood was managed. We have already made improvements in how we and the National Weather Service communicate with each other with the goal of better informing the traveling public of important weather information.

Thank you so much for your attention and I will be pleased, along with Tom Wurdeman from our staff as well as Scott Smith and Tom Poer from HNTB to respond to any questions you may have.

Before I entertain any media questions, I want to first take questions from Colonel Seck, Secretary Miller and other members of the Turnpike Authority.


******
Scott Smith, President of HNTB's Central Division and principal in charge of HNTB's role as Consulting Engineers for the Kansas Turnpike Authority

Tom Poer, Project Engineer of HNTB, Consulting Engineers for the Kansas Turnpike Authority

Tom Wurdeman, Chief Engineer, Kansas Turnpike Authority


Remaining victims found
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority at an 11 a.m. news conference in Emporia
September 2, 2003

The remaining two victims from Saturday evening's flood were found this morning. Melissa Rogers, 33, of Liberty, Mo. was found at 7:24 a.m. on Sept. 2. She had been traveling with her husband, Robert, and four children. Robert survives. Albert Larson, 31, of Fort Worth, Texas, was also found mid-morning. Mr. Larson had been traveling alone.

Thank you:
The Kansas Turnpike Authority and Troop G of the Kansas Highway Patrol wish to thank all the various law enforcement entities, organizations and volunteers who worked for nearly three days on the search and rescue operations conducted in the Flint Hills near milepost 117. Those who responded to the call for help included Emporia Fire and Rescue, Lyon County Fire Department, Lyon County Sheriff's Department, Chase County Fire and Rescue, Chase County Sheriff's Department, Wildlife and Parks Department, Kansas Highway Patrol staff from Topeka and outside troops, K-9 handlers, divers, four-wheeler and boat drivers, the Salvation Army and many others who worked at the scene.


KTA hosts Belle Plaine Service Area grand opening celebration
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
July 21, 2003

Another crowd will gather at the Kansas Turnpike Authority's Belle Plaine Service Area on Thursday, July 24.

But this time, the sight to see will be the opening of a new facility, rather than the destruction of one.

Fifteen months after a fire swept through the Belle Plaine Service Area Restaurant and Travel Information Center, a new facility has opened in its place. The service area, located at milepost 26 on the Kansas Turnpike, again offers three major facilities in just one stop - the Kansas Travel Information Center (TIC), a McDonald's restaurant and a Phillips 66 retail fuel site.

The facility, which will be dedicated in an 11 a.m. ceremony, is a near-identical match to the one that burned in April 2002. Customers may notice some differences in the new facility, including interior decorating and a drive-up window.

The celebration of this new facility will include a ribbon cutting by Turnpike, McDonald's and TIC dignitaries; a look at the new TIC facility; refreshments and demonstrations by Kansas artists. Some of the artists on hand will include Susie Spear, Alta Barton and Peggy Wilcut, who will be demonstrating figurine painting, jewelry making and wheat weaving.

Local business owners Steve and Connie Brend operate the Belle Plaine Service Area McDonald's restaurant. They also operate the McDonald's restaurant at the Turnpike's Towanda Service Area, as well as several other McDonald's restaurants in Wichita and Goddard.

"We are pleased that the Brends and their employees are providing a high level of customer service at our Towanda Service Area and we are confident that same service will be extended to our new Belle Plaine service facility," said KTA President/CEO Michael L. Johnston.

The TIC is one of three operated by the Kansas Department of Commerce. It is open 361 days a year. Nearly 350,000 people visit the Kansas TICs each year, and 40 percent of those who stop actually change their travel plans and enhance their visits to Kansas. Trained tourist counselors will provide information and resources to travelers on what to see and do in Kansas.

"We very much appreciate the support of the Kansas Turnpike Authority which allows us to operate this beautiful facility," said Lt. Governor/Commerce Secretary John Moore. "The Belle Plaine Travel Information Center is an important promotional tool for Kansas travel and tourism."

A gift shop located between the restaurant and TIC will provide customers with Kansas shopping opportunities. Other services at the Belle Plaine Service Area include ATM, pay phones and weather information.


Take a break for safety this holiday weekend
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
May 19, 2003

Jessica Gembala, a Wichita resident, remembers the accident clearly.

School was out for the day on a beautiful spring afternoon. She and a friend climbed into her car, fastened their safety belts and decided to take a little detour on their way home from school.

"Ms. Gembala did something that many people, especially teenagers, don't do - she and her passenger buckled up," said Captain John Walters, Kansas Highway Patrol Troop G Commander. "And it really paid off."

To promote safety habits such as wearing safety belts, the Kansas Turnpike Authority and Kansas Highway Patrol Troop G are teaming up for an annual Safety Break. This day-long safety awareness promotion will be held at the Towanda Service Area, milepost 65, on May 23, 2003, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

"Although we tend to focus on safety belt usage, there are many safety habits we want to promote. Our goal is to increase public awareness so people can make educated decisions," Capt. Walters said.

Included in this year's events are the No-Zone trailer, SafeKids' free child safety seat inspections, an impairment station where travelers can don goggles to see how different blood alcohol levels affect drivers physically, and the KHP Safety Belt Rollover Demonstration.

Gembala's accident, although eight years in the past, stays vivid in her mind. They were traveling - too fast, Gembala admits - down a gravel country road when a small animal ran out in front of the car.

"My first reaction was to try to avoid it," she said.

The car spun out of control, rolled over and then flipped end over end about three times before it came to rest in a ditch beside the road. Gembala and her friend, both shaken but relatively unharmed, climbed out and began walking in search of help.

"I was a young, inexperienced driver… who was very lucky," she said.

Although Gembala's story has a happy ending, many stories that begin the same way do not end in just a lesson-learned. They end tragically. In fact, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24 in the United States.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2001, 63 percent of 16- to 20-year-old drivers and passengers killed or seriously injured in crashes were not wearing a safety belt.

"Before the accident, I didn't really think about needing to wear a safety belt. It was just something you were supposed to do so I wore it," Gembala said. "But now I actually think about how important it is almost every time I get in a vehicle."

The public is encouraged to attend and participate in the safety awareness program. Certified technicians will be available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 23rd at the Towanda Service Area to check the installation of child safety seats.

This event is sponsored by the Kansas Turnpike Authority, KHP Troop G, SafeKids Coalition, McDonald's, and Phillips 66.


New Southern Terminal opens sooner than expected
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
April 21, 2003


On April 24, almost exactly a full year from the time the construction bid was awarded, the Kansas Turnpike Authority will open its new Southern Terminal at milepost 17.

"It's remarkable, really," said KTA President/CEO Michael L. Johnston. "We never imagined we could open this plaza in April."

The $8 million project bid was awarded to Cornejo & Sons, Wichita, on April 19, 2002, with hopes that the plaza would be open by Memorial Day 2003.
The existing plaza, which consists of only two entry lanes and four exit lanes, is located underneath the US-160 bridge near Wellington at milepost 19. Any expansion at that site was not possible because of the location. Traffic levels through the Turnpike's current Southern Terminal have grown steadily over the past several years, causing the KTA to plan for a new plaza. On April 24, the new plaza will open with four entry lanes and seven exit lanes, two of which are dedicated K-TAG electronic toll collection lanes.

"We routinely experienced backups on holidays and weekends at the existing Southern Terminal for the past several years, causing us to have to open the dedicated K-TAG lane to all customers. While this was not a very popular practice among our K-TAG users at this plaza, it was necessary to achieve the maximum traffic flow," Johnston said.

The new plaza's design will be familiar to many Turnpike customers. The Turnpike's Eastern Terminal, which opened in October 2000, and East Topeka Toll Plaza, which opened in August 2001, use the same basic design and layout. Both plazas have worked well for the KTA and continue to handle the traffic levels at those locations.

Grand opening events for the new plaza will be held on Thursday, April 24, beginning with a reception and tour at 1:30 p.m. and a ribbon cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. The festivities will include a presentation of colors; the singing of our national anthem by Washington Elementary School first graders from Wellington; and opening music by Wellington High School band under the direction of David Brody. The ceremony will also include remarks from Johnston and KTA Board Chairman Mary Turkington.

Immediately after the grand opening events are complete, KTA personnel will begin the process to open the new plaza and close the existing plaza.

KTA authorizes widening from Topeka to Lecompton
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
December 23, 2002

The Kansas Turnpike Authority recently authorized the final engineering and construction project to widen I-70 between its East Topeka (Plaza 183) and Lecompton (Plaza 197) toll plazas. This project, 12.69 miles in length, will add an additional driving lane in each direction. This will assure that a high level of customer service continues in that corridor which is experiencing rapid growth in customer traffic counts. The cost of the project, which includes important drainage changes as well as a new 51-inch median barrier, is estimated to cost $108.6 million inflated to 2005-2006 when construction is schedule to be complete.

In addition, the Authority also recently learning from HNTB Corporation, the engineering general consultant to the Turnpike, that the Kansas River Bridge at Lawrence would reach the end of its useful life in 2012. As a result, the Authority also approved the preliminary steps necessary to have a replacement bridge in place by that time. The replacement of what is known as the J.L. Fisher Bridge, together with interchange improvements at both Plaza 202 and 204 in Lawrence, is estimated to cost $131.9 million inflated to 2009-2012 when the necessary construction of that project is expected to be complete.

These two projects were identified in a Long-Term-Needs Study conducted by HNTB Corp. and presented to the Kansas Turnpike Authority in the spring of 2001. Other projects identified in the report include:
-- Topeka Service Area Replacement and Relocation
-- Replacing aging service area facilities at Matfield Green (milepost 97) and Towanda (milepost 65)
-- Southern Terminal relocation

The replacement and relocation of the Topeka Service Area and the replacement of the Towanda Service Area facilities are now complete. The relocation and reconstruction of Southern Terminal Interchange and the replacement of the Matfield Green Service Area facilities are both under construction and should be complete in mid 2003.

back to Widening page


New Towanda Service Area facility opens
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
December 5, 2002

We're opening doors to the community this holiday season!

On Saturday, December 14, the Kansas Turnpike Authority, McDonald's Owners/Operators Steve and Connie Brend, and Phillips 66 will host a grand opening celebration and food drive to welcome area customers to the new Towanda Service Area facility at milepost 65. A reception will be held beginning at 11:30 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony following at noon. For entertainment, Ronald McDonald will be on hand to present a magic show and the Sedgwick County Zoo will have the Zoo Bear on hand to greet visitors.

All non-perishable food and money collected will be donated to the Kansas Foodbank in Wichita. The Kansas Foodbank distributes food to other locations across the state and is currently helping 32,699 people every week.

According to Foodbank President/CEO Virginia White, the number of those in need is up 30 to 40 percent in most of the state. "In my nearly 20 years in Kansas, I have never seen so many people in need. People who are in line for food right now are people who have never before been in this situation," White said. "Any gift that is given to us right now is most appreciated."

The Kansas Foodbank is the primary source of food for those in need. For every $1 that is donated, the Kansas Foodbank is able to provide $10 of food to the community.
The public is invited to attend this event to celebrate the new facility and the season by giving to those in need in the state. If it is not possible to attend the grand opening celebration, Wichita area residents are encouraged to participate by dropping off a non-perishable food item at the Towanda Service Area at milepost 65, between Monday, December 9 and Sunday, December 15. Food will be delivered to the Kansas Foodbank on Monday, December 16.

McDonald's, Phillips 66 and the Sedgwick County Zoo will be giving away a variety of small gifts, including travel mugs and Ronald McDonald dolls while supplies last.

This new facility is a one-building design that houses both the McDonald's restaurant and the Phillips 66 "Kicks" store. Kicks is ConocoPhillips state of the art facility that offers Rooster Brew coffee, Flavor Checked Fountain drinks and everything else that someone traveling the Kansas Turnpike would need.

Steve and Connie Brend, who have been in the restaurant business since 1984, operate the McDonald's restaurant. They currently have 7 restaurants in the Wichita and Goddard areas.

"We are looking forward to working with the Brends and recognize their strong community presence and unwavering commitment to customer service," said KTA President/CEO Michael L. Johnston.

"We know that many of our customers will be the one-time traveler. However, we have already begun to recognize our repeat customers and look forward to getting to know them better," Steve Brend said.

This facility offers increased seating, expanded bathrooms, family bathrooms to aid those traveling with small children or the elderly, and will soon offers outdoor picnic areas.


Lawrence Service Area restaurant reopens as McDonald's
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
November 12, 2002


We've turned over a new leaf!

The Kansas Turnpike Authority and Tom and Marilyn Dobski, McDonald's Owners/Operators are proud to announce the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in a recently remodeled facility at the Lawrence Service Area at milepost 209 on the Kansas Turnpike. This restaurant re-opened after a month-long reconstruction process to update the former Hardee's restaurant facility.

Grand opening ceremonies for this new facility will include a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. on November 15. Dignitaries involved in this celebration include Kansas Governor Bill Graves, Kansas Turnpike Authority Chairman Mary Turkington, and other local officials. Ronald McDonald will also be making an appearance at the ribbon cutting ceremonies.

"We are looking forward to working with the Dobski's and recognize their strong community presence and unwavering commitment to customer service," said KTA President/CEO Michael L. Johnston.

This restaurant has seating for approximately 120 people and is decorated in the "classic" McDonald's 50's motif. Featured in the restaurant are a TV lounge for truck drivers and other travelers; Internet hook-ups for business travelers; two Internet kiosks; and a new patio and picnic area outside the restaurant.

"We're proud to serve travelers who may only stop once as they are passing through our great state of Kansas. We also anticipate seeing some familiar faces from the Lawrence and Topeka communities. We are very excited about the challenge of running this restaurant," said Tom Dobski.

The Dobski's own and operate 13 McDonald's restaurants located throughout northeast Kansas and have been running McDonald's restaurants for the past 21 years.

The Lawrence Service Area restaurant, joining the McDonald's at the Emporia Service Area, is the second McDonald's restaurant located on the Turnpike. When the Towanda, Matfield Green and Belle Plaine Service Areas are rebuilt, all will house McDonald's restaurants.

Historical Marker to be rededicated at Topeka Service Area
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
September 16, 2002


The Kansas Turnpike Authority is hosting a rededication ceremony of the Lecompton Territorial State Capital Historical Marker at the new Kansas Turnpike Topeka Service Area, Milepost 187, on Wednesday, September 18 at 2:00 p.m.

The Lecompton Historical Society will have the Lecompton Historical Reenactors in attendance and they will present the colors and lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Reverend Dan Michaux will present the Invocation, and the Lecompton United Methodist Church Choir will sing the National Anthem and the official Lecompton Song.

Mary Turkington, KTA Chairman, Mary Allman, Kansas State Historical Society; and Representative Tom Sloan will make the rededication remarks. They will also join other Lecompton Historical Society members in a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the Historical sign's move to the Service Area.



KTA/KHP host rollover demonstration at Topeka Service Area
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
August 27, 2002


See Annie get in the car.

See Annie fasten her seatbelt.

See Annie's chances of surviving a rollover accident drastically improve.

Come see Annie for yourself… Friday, August 30 at the Topeka Service Area, Milepost 187 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority and Troop G, the Turnpike Division of the Kansas Highway Patrol, will be hosting a safety belt rollover simulator demonstration and providing a variety of safety-related information to Turnpike travelers at the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

The rollover demonstrations use life-like crash dummies, such as Annie, to graphically depict what can occur to vehicle occupants in rollover collisions. KHP Troopers will be on-hand to show what happens to Annie when she is buckled up and what happens to her when she is not. This event is designed to educate the public on the importance of safety belts and child safety seats.

"When you see the rollover demonstration, the message that you need to buckle up really hits home," said Captain John Walters, commander of Turnpike Troop G.
Representatives from the Kansas Safety Belt Education Office (KSBEO) will be on-hand to promote the increased use of seat belts and child safety seats. KSBEO focuses on child passenger safety and the proper use of occupant protection devices. The Kansas Drunk Driving Prevention (KDDP) office will also have representatives available to discuss the prevention of alcohol related vehicle crashes.

Technicians from the KSBEO and Safe Kids, as well as KHP Troopers, will be available to check child safety seats for anyone who has installation or safety questions. Also available will be a limited number of safety seats to be given away to those whose seats are determined to be unsafe during a technician check.

"In Kansas, all children under 4 years of age must be in an approved child safety seat," said KTA Safety Coordinator Steve Rust. "It is estimated that infants under 1 year of age who are properly secured in a child safety seat are 71 percent less likely to die as a result of a traffic collision."

Also available for demonstrations and use by the public will be DUI goggles, which simulate intoxication. Participants can attempt to walk a straight line while wearing the goggles to increase awareness about drug and alcohol impairment.

"Believe it or not, fatigue can have much the same effect on drivers as alcohol or drugs," Rust said.

The KTA is encouraging travelers to stop for a break at the Topeka Service Area on Friday and have a free cup of coffee courtesy of Hardee's Food Systems and other refreshments courtesy of Wood Oil Company.

"The demonstrations are being conducted to encourage Turnpike travelers to stop and take a break while traveling, and troopers will be available to provide information about highway safety," Captain Walters said. "Extra Highway Patrol troopers will be patrolling during the long holiday weekend to help ensure Turnpike customers safely reach their destinations."

Available to the public will be:
· insulated drink cups
· keychains
· brochures
· maps
· children's safety items
· Safe Communities Coalition Safety Belt Van
· Kansas Highway Patrol cars on display

NEW TOPEKA SERVICE AREA OFFERS MANY CHOICES
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
May 29, 2002

The new Topeka Service Area is now open at milepost 187.5, in a one-facility design that will be the first of its kind on the Kansas Turnpike. Located between Topeka and Lawrence, the new building will house multiple food concepts, a retail fuel operation, a business communication center, gift shop and additional development space. The food concepts include Hardee's, Taco Bueno, Bresler's Ice Cream, Hot Stuff Pizza and Cinnamon's Bakery and Coffee Company. Wood Oil will operate the retail fuel operation and will sell Conoco fuel.

The new service area offers benefits to all travelers, from its multiple dining options to a business communications center and a weather kiosk.

"We designed this facility with both the one-time traveler and the commuter in mind," said Michael L. Johnston, President/CEO of the Kansas Turnpike Authority. "We are trying to offer our customers more services in one location."

The business communications center includes direct Internet access and dial-up capabilities, a fax machine, copier and laptop hookups. The KTA is working with WeatherData Inc. to provide travelers with a radar image updated every minute, which will show weather directly surrounding the Turnpike.

The Topeka Service Area is also unique in its location. Rather than being located between the lanes of traffic, it is located on the north side of the roadway and uses over-the-road entrance and exit ramps to eliminate adverse travel usually associated with traditional ramp access design.
A grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting for the new service area will be held on Friday, May 31, at 10:30 a.m.

The new operation is the largest of the Turnpike's Service Area renovation projects. In late 2002, a new one-facility complex will open at the Towanda Service Area at milepost 65. When that facility opens, the Matfield Green Service Area at milepost 97 will undergo similar renovations, with a scheduled completion date in 2003. Both will house McDonald's restaurants and Phillips 66 fuel retails.


NEW INTERCHANGE WILL BENEFIT NORTHEAST KANSAS
Released by the Kansas Department of Transportation
Aug. 1, 2001

The new East Topeka Interchange project, after almost six years and more than $90 million, will open to traffic on Aug. 1. The opening is ahead of schedule and the project is under budget. The KTA, KDOT, the City of Topeka and Shawnee County joined together to fund one of the single largest transportation investments in our state’s history.

“This interchange is an excellent example of four organizations working together to provide a safer, more efficient transportation system for all motorists,” said Secretary of Transportation E. Dean Carlson. “Whether you live in Topeka or are traveling through the area, motorists for years to come will reap the benefits of this new interchange.”

“This project will be a living testament to multijurisdictional cooperation and achievement. The economic future of Topeka and northeast Kansas will be enhanced by this investment,” said Michael L. Johnston, Kansas Turnpike Authority President/CEO.

The new interchange will:
-- Connect the Oakland Expressway to I-70 and the Kansas Turnpike;
-- Improve the I-70 alignment in east Topeka;
-- Include a folded diamond interchange at Rice Road/I-70 with roundabouts at the ramp terminals as well as a folded diamond interchange at U.S. 40/K-4;
-- Feature two new toll plaza facilities that have commuter parking areas and K-TAG lanes.

“The project is the epitome of intergovernmental cooperation,” said Topeka Mayor Butch Felker. “It will be the catalyst for many economic development projects in Topeka.”

The project will have many advantages for people in Topeka and throughout northeast Kansas with:
-- Improved traffic flow in the area;
-- Reduced travel time;
-- Decreased congestion;
-- Local residents having improved access to the major corridors;
-- Improved access to east Topeka through Rice Road interchange to Croco Road;
-- Economic development possibilities.

“The citizens of Shawnee County are excited about the completion of the East Topeka Interchange,” said Shawnee County Commission Chairman Vic Miller. “This project represents the best in intergovernmental cooperation and opens doors to development in a long neglected part of our community.”

While the project will be open to traffic Aug. 1, work on removing the existing KTA toll plaza and constructing the ramp and connections to the Rice Road/I-70 roundabouts will not be finished until late this fall. In addition, landscaping and seeding as well as work on other areas off the roadway will continue until late 2002.

The Hamm Companies of Perry is the prime contractor on the interchange project.


NEW INTERCHANGE HAS TREMENDOUS ADVANTAGES
Release by the Kansas Department of Transportation
Aug. 1, 2001

Determining future transportation needs can be difficult, especially when city, county, state and turnpike roadways are all located in a small area in east Topeka. By taking all four agencies’ needs into consideration and combining them together into one big project, the new East Topeka Interchange will be a tremendous advantage for motorists in east Topeka.

Originally, the Oakland Expressway, that now stops at S.E. 6th Street, was eventually to be extended south and west to connect to I-70 and that was it – no direct connection to go east or west on the Turnpike and no access to Rice Road.

The original concept also did not allow the Kansas Turnpike room to expand and include new technology to assist motorists. Access for city and county roads to I-70 and the Turnpike would have been considered separately at some point in the future.

KDOT and the KTA decided to join forces and requested the City of Topeka and Shawnee County to join them. “Each entity was pursuing separate plans on how to solve transportation problems in this area,” said Steve King, KDOT Squad Leader in charge of design on the East Topeka Interchange. “The two agencies got together and developed a plan that would serve each other well along with the local streets and county roads in that area.”

City and county funds were predicated by a vote of taxpayers on August 6, 1996, to extend a quarter-cent sales tax. It passed by a large margin. “A lot of people wanted to see it done and they’re getting a good bang for their buck,” King said.

The total project cost was originally estimated at $98.6 million, but now it is expected to cost about $5 million less. The project funds are 50 percent from KDOT, 41 percent from the KTA, 4.5 percent from the City of Topeka and 4.5 percent from Shawnee County.

The East Topeka Interchange will feature several safety enhancements:
-- Helping local and through traffic;
-- Connecting the KTA with I-70 and the Oakland Expressway;
-- Reducing congestion at the existing toll plaza by building an improved toll facility;
-- Using roundabouts at the Rice Road/I-70 ramp terminals to handle thelarge volumes of traffic coming to and from I-70.


WORK FAR FROM OVER ON EAST TOPEKA INTERCHANGE
Released by the Kansas Department of Transportation
Aug. 1, 2001

The new East Topeka Interchange will be open to traffic today, but the project is far from complete. This fall, a major landscaping project will begin along the new roadways that will take more than a year to complete.

This landscaping project is one of the largest planting projects ever undertaken. Since some areas are inaccessible to mow, there will be numerous naturalized areas to help reduce maintenance needs and add beauty to the area.

Native grasses such as Little Blue Stem, Big Blue Stem and Side Oats Gramma as well as wildflowers including Grey Headed Coneflower, Pale Purple Coneflower and Purple Prairie Clover will be used throughout the project. Trees will be planted in several areas including along Rice Road and shrubs will be planted in the middle of the roundabouts.

The landscaping project will not affect traffic, but motorists are asked to use extra caution throughout the new interchange as highway workers and contractors will be working near the roadways.


FUN FACTS/FIGURES INVOLVING EAST TOPEKA INTERCHANGE
Released by the Kansas Department of Transportation
Aug. 1, 2001

It is the largest project let to construction by the Kansas Department of Transportation or the Kansas Turnpike Authority, and come Wednesday, Aug. 1, the dream of a new East Topeka Interchange will become a reality.

You can see why this project took three construction seasons to build by looking at the amount of materials and size of the project below.

-- 5,660,000 pounds of structural steel
-- 10,801 feet of prestressed beams
-- 16 bridges within the 39 lane miles of roadway built on the project
-- 38,220 shear studs
-- 23,966 square yards of overlay
-- 4,385,000 cubic yards of excavation
-- 364,700 square yards of concrete pavement
-- Six miles of ramps
-- 5,899 feet of steel piling
-- 3,684,000 pounds of reinforcing steel


KTA/KHP TROOP G DEMONSTRATE IMPORTANCE OF SEATBELTS
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
May 23, 2001

WICHITA, KS. . . . The Kansas Turnpike Authority and Troop G of the Kansas Highway Patrol will be demonstrating a safety belt rollover simulator at the Kansas Turnpike - Belle Plaine Service Area, Milepost 26, on Friday, May 25. The simulator is designed to help educate the public on the importance of safety belts and child safety seats.

The demonstrations, using life-like crash dummies in the rollover simulator, graphically depict what occurs in rollover collisions. The troopers will be there from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will also have safety-related items, insulated drink cups, brochures, maps and children's safety items to handout. As well as distributing the items, they will answer questions from interested customers.

Travelers may have their free cups filled with coffee courtesy of the Hardee's restaurant. The restaurant will continue to offer free coffee to Turnpike customers through the Memorial Day weekend, ending at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 29.

The demonstration and the free coffee are ways in which the Turnpike and Hardee's encourage travelers to stop and take a break while traveling this Memorial Day holiday weekend.


Transcript of remarks made at the
LONG-TERM NEEDS STUDY
MEDIA CONFERENCE
MICHAEL L. JOHNTON - PRESIDENT/CEO
10:00 a.m. Thursday - May 10, 2001
Maner Conference Center - Topeka, KS.

Welcome - I am Michael Johnston, President and CEO of the Kansas Turnpike Authority. We appreciate your taking the time to join us today and find out what's on the horizon for the Turnpike. Our commitment to safety and customer service continue to play a key part in our planning for future needs.

Before I get into our recently completed Long Term Needs Report, I want to give you an update on the opening of what we refer to as the East Topeka Interchange Project. This project, jointly undertaken by the Kansas Department of Transportation, Shawnee County, The City of Topeka, and ourselves, began back in 1995 when project design activities were commenced. The actual construction contracts were signed on March 26, 1999 and I am pleased to report that we now expect the project to be dedicated and open to traffic on or about August 1, 2001. I am equally pleased to also report that the project will be completed both ahead of schedule and under the original budget we outlined back in 1995. The original schedule called for completion in the fourth quarter of 2001 at a cost of $98.6 million dollars. We now expect the project to come on line in the third quarter of 2001 at a total project cost of slightly under $93 million dollars. The project truly represents a unique achievement and will be a lasting testament to what can be accomplished when multiple jurisdictions pursue a unified goal.

The Kansas Turnpike has recently received the results of a long-term needs study conducted by KTA consulting engineers, HNTB Corp. This study, eleven months in the making, represents an update of a previous analysis completed in 1994. It is interesting to note that one of the possible projects mentioned in the 1994 study was the East Topeka Interchange that I just spoke about. The study approach separated future needs into three categories: capital improvements, operations and maintenance, and our replacement reserve fund requirements.

After conducting on-site inspections and analysis of the actual roadways and bridges that comprise the Turnpike, HNTB determined that the Turnpike offers a safe and efficient travel experience. However, it also identified a number of policy areas that require immediate attention if the KTA is to continue to provide the traveling public with our traditional high level of customer service. I would like to focus today on several major capital improvement policy questions revealed in the report.

Capital Improvements (stated in inflated dollars to suggested or programmed year of completion)
Projects approved and underway
· Southern Terminal relocation--$16,563,500 scheduled for 2002-03
Traffic continues to backup and is a problem during peak hours. The current layout under a bridge restricts expansion at the current location.
· Replacing aging service area facilities at Matfield Green and Towanda Scheduled for 2002-03-Cost $6,330,000
· Topeka Service Area Replacement and Relocation--$12,324,000 Expect to have open late 2001. Is being relocated due to the construction of the KTA/I-70/K-4 Interchange. When the new East Topeka Interchange opens, all the I-70 traffic will no longer have access to the service area, which is nearly 60 percent of the traffic that now passes the service area.

Projects for the future
· Reconstruction of the Kansas River Bridges--$77,063,000 (must be complete and in service by 2012). Rebuilding the bridges is necessary due to the wear and tear, at that point, on the over 55-year-old bridges.
· Lane widening in the Topeka to Lawrence corridor--$153,354,500
-- Between the East Topeka and Lecompton Interchanges.
-- Between the Lecompton and K-7 Interchanges.
These improvements are suggested in order to head-off congestion and safety concerns, and to continue to provide the level of acceptable service to Turnpike customers.
· Drainage structure and pavement rehabilitation. These projects improve the efficiency of the Turnpike.

Toll Increase
Faced with increased costs and capital needs, we have scheduled an approximate 5% increase in our toll rates effective July 1, 2001. The last increase took place on May 1, 1995, over six years ago. The Kansas Turnpike Authority has always tried to maintain a balance between a reasonable toll structure and our ability to meet our customers need for safety and mobility.

In closing, I would like to thank you again for taking the time to hear about the Turnpike's many upcoming challenges and changes. If you have any questions, I will be happy to discuss those with you now or afterwards. I hope to see you around the first of August for the opening of the East Topeka Interchange project.

We have handouts available including a copy of computer-generated pictures of the East Topeka/Oakland Expressway project area, and an executive summary of the HNTB Long Term Needs Study.

back to Widening page


KHP PARTICIPATES IN HOLIDAY HIGHWAY SAFETY PROGRAM
Released by the Kansas Highway Patrol
Dec. 15, 2000

In observance of the 10th annual Holiday Highway Safety Program, the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (PMCA) of Kansas will soon join forces to help ensure safe travels for Kansas motorists.

Under the terms of the program, association members contribute to the safety of motorists traveling Kansas highways by donating gasoline to their local trooper between Dec. 22nd and Jan. 1. Over the last nine years, participating vendors across the state have donated over 33,000 gallons of fuel. For the citizens of Kansas, this generosity equates to approximately one half of a million miles of highway that was patrolled by troopers with no fuel cost to taxpayers.

Colonel Don Brownlee, superintendent of the Patrol, said his agency has been tremendously appreciative of the association's dedication to highway safety over the past decade. "A commitment of this magnitude speaks highly of the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas and its members. For 10 years now, the Patrol and the citizens of this state have benefited from PMCA's commitment to traffic safety."


KTA TOLL COLLECTOR KILLED IN SOUTHERN TERMINAL ACCIDENT
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Oct. 16, 2000


At 2:09 p.m., a southbound semi tractor-trailer struck a pickup truck, and then hit a Kansas Turnpike Authority tollbooth at the Southern Terminal Toll Plaza at milepost 19. There were also two cars and a motorcycle involved in the accident.

Turnpike traffic is moving smoothly through this area, but southbound drivers are urged to exercise caution when driving through the area.

The driver of the semi truck is Neal A. Johnson, 45, from St. Peters, Minnesota. His truck was loaded with frozen food and the Food and Drug Administration was called to the scene to direct disposal of the load. The accident is still under investigation.

In this same accident, on duty KTA toll collector Eva "Pat" Wood, 58, was killed. She was a Belle Plaine resident who began working for the Kansas Turnpike in 1984 at the Wellington Interchange. She then moved to Southern Terminal in 1989. Her husband, Jarrell B. Wood and two grown children, survives Wood.

The only other toll collector fatality occurred on May 13, 1970, at the 47th St. Interchange when two collectors were killed.

Contact Lisa Callahan at 316-682-4537 ext. 2262 for more information.

Vehicles and occupants involved in the accident were:
Neal A. Johnson, Age 45
St. Peters, Minnesota
1999 Volvo semi-truck with Great Dane trailer
Lacerations to face and head, neck pain
Taken to Sumner County Regional Hospital - Wellington, KS

Nick W. Schnell, Age 48
Hastings, Nebraska
1998 white Ford pickup
Cuts, bruises, bumps to face
Taken by Life Watch helicopter to St. Francis Hospital - Wichita, KS

Kenneth J. Legleiter, Age 29
Ft. Worth, Texas
1995 Oldsmobile
Lumps, bruises
Taken by Sumner County Emergency Medical to Sumner County Regional Hospital - Wellington,KS

Harry C. Walz, Age 81
Helen B. Walz, Age 79
Holcomb, Kansas
2000 Mercury
Mr. Walz had no injuries, Mrs. Walz had possible neck injuries - sought own treatment

Jerry D. Toles, Age 48
Sublette, Kansas
1993 Honda motorcycle
No injuries

One fatality listed as a pedestrian - toll collector:
Eva "Pat" Wood, Age 58
Belle Plaine, Kansas
KTA Collector for 16 years


KTA URGES TRAVELERS TO FIND ALTERNATE ROUTE DUE TO ACCIDENT
Released by the Kansas Turnpike Authority
Oct. 16, 2000


There has been a fatal accident involving a semi truck at the Southern Terminal toll plaza at milepost 19 on the Kansas Turnpike. The semi hit a tollbooth causing extensive damage to the plaza. There will be significant traffic delays during the rest of today and possibly into tomorrow. We are encouraging southbound travelers to use alternate routes until further notice. We will update roadway conditions on a regular basis. Tune to our Travel Advisory Radio at 1610AM for the latest information on this accident.

Contact Lisa Callahan at 316-682-4537 ext. 2262 for more information.

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