Kansas DOT seeks sponsors for Wi-Fi access at rest areas

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 3/10/2014

As a way to defray some of its maintenance costs, the Kansas Department of Transportation is seeking sponsorship opportunities to provide Wi-Fi access to travelers and truckers stopping at its rest areas.

An initial deal recently fell through, but Mike Floberg, bureau chief of transportation safety and technology for KDOT, told Land Line that he is hopeful the agency will have a sponsorship and the technology up and running by July.

“It is our hope to have a sponsorship in place before the Fourth of July week and we would have information out there if needed by the traveling public,” Floberg said.

Floberg said having Wi-Fi access at the rest areas will benefit truckers because the Wi-Fi kiosks will contain electronic information, including bridge and clearance information, International Fuel Tax Agreement information, and other links available on its truckingks.org website.

Other information that will be relayed via the Wi-Fi portals is critical travel-related information – including road conditions, construction and detour information, closed roads, metro traffic information, and emergency travel advisories for Kansas and all of the states adjacent to Kansas. Floberg said other information that would be available to travelers would include Amber Alerts and information about missing children, as well as information about the Kansas Turnpike Authority information.

Recently, Kansas has had to close two of its rest areas because of the costs to maintain the sites. Floberg said one that was closed was located near a truck stop, while the other rest area was closed because of the drought and the cost to have water brought in to fill its lagoon.

Floberg said four rest areas already have Wi-Fi access as part of a pilot project that was conducted by KDOT. The plan now is to roll it out to all of its rest areas.

He said the sites currently with Wi-Fi access include one on Interstate 70 at Paxico, which is about 30 miles west of Topeka, Kan.; a site on I-70 almost to the Colorado border; one on Interstate 35 at Williamsburg, about an hour southwest of Kansas City; and a rest area on U.S. 400 in Greenwood County, which is located in the southeast part of the state.

So far, Floberg said KDOT has an estimated amount they are seeking, but hasn’t publicly announced what the price tag might be for a sponsor or sponsors to pay to add Wi-Fi access and kiosks at the state’s approximately 30 rest areas.

“I know our people want to break even … but I think we have to start a program to be able to really get the program rolling and let people see the advantage to it,” Floberg told Land Line. “We are not asking for the world. We just want something to deal with covering the technology the best we can. Then the sponsor can get their name on the signs, and people traveling through Kansas can see that name.”

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