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VDOT says no to ‘no jake brake’ signs

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

MILFORD—A state highway official said the state will not erect “No jake brake” signs in Caroline County after questioning from Supervisor Chairman Floyd Thomas.

If you’ve heard the rat-a-tat-tat sound of a tractor-trailer as it slows down, then you’ve heard the sound of a diesel engine ‘jake braking.’ The engine is equipped with a device from Jacobs Vehicle Systems Inc. that helps slow the truck when the driver lets up the accelerator.

Cities across the nation have posted signs banning the use of ‘jake braking’ due to its loud, machine gun-like noise in residential areas. The equipment, which temporarily alters engine valve timing, often is used to slow a truck traveling downhill, but some drivers use it even on level roads or exit ramps because it reduces wear on brakes.

Gary A. DuVal, the residency administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation, met with supervisors at their regular meeting on Feb. 12 and gave them an update on various road projects.

That’s when Thomas asked if VDOT would erect “No jake brake” signs. Thomas noted that the signs are along Route 3 in Fredericksburg.

Fredericksburg maintains its own roads and therefore can put up signs prohibiting ‘jake braking,’ said DuVal.

‘Jake braking’ has been the subject of some recent complaints to the Bowling Green Town Council from at least one resident who lives on Main Street. Bonnie Cannon complained about the ‘jake braking’ noise caused by logging trucks traveling on Main Street in the early morning hours. Thomas, who represents the Mattaponi District, lives in Bowling Green.

In response to an earlier request by Thomas, DuVal indicated that VDOT is planning to put in a pedestrian cross walk and flashing light on West Broaddus Ave. in front of the Bowling Green Plaza shopping center. There is pedestrian traffic in that section of West Broaddus from people who live on the other side and walk back and forth between the shopping center. DuVal will seek the concurrence of the Bowling Green Town Council at its next regular meeting March 7.

In his briefing to the Board of Supervisors, DuVal said bridge work on U.S. 301 over the Rappahannock River is half-way complete. The $5.5 million project will give the 1,483-foot long bridge new parapets, expansion joints and a deck that’s overlaid with latex hydraulic concrete, which will improve rideability, according to VDOT.

The Route 207 (Rogers Clark Boulevard) bridge work will be complete in early May. VDOT is replacing the westbound portion of the bridge where it crosses over the CSX railroad tracks. Replacing the 1953 structurally deficient bridge will cost $3.3 million.

Bridge replacement on Route 644 will be complete in June. The old bridge over Maracossic Creek was made of timber and the new one will be made of concrete. The cost is just under $500,000. Motorists have been detoured six miles around the work zone.

At Taylor’s request, VDOT is studying whether to place guard rails along Stonewall Jackson Road near swampy areas.

Supervisor Jeff Black complained about traffic backups at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Ladysmith Road. DuVal said VDOT would check the traffic light controller.

Supervisor Reggie Underwood asked if the speed limit could be lowered from 45 to 35 mph on Old Frog Level Road because a hearing impaired child lives along the road.

In other action, the board:

• Agreed to consider at its Feb. 26 meeting a request from the School Board to authorize a $25 million bond referendum for two school projects. The School Board is seeking the bond issue to pay for $21 million in improvements and additions to Caroline High School and $4 million for additions and improvements to Madison Elementary School.

• Voted unanimously to start condemnation proceedings for less than a quarter-acre of land in Carmel Church near the Days Inn for a well in order to comply with state Health Department regulations.

• Voted unanimously to conduct a public hearing on March 26 to consider creating tourism zones around the Virginia Sports Complex and Meadow Event Park. Establishing tourism zones would enable the county to participate in a state financing program to help recruit and expand tourism-related businesses.

• Voted unanimously to install an overhead light at the county solid waste convenience site on Lakewood Road near Bowling Green at a cost of $3,462 and to grant an easement to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative to provide power for the light.

• Agreed to sell a surplus 1987 fire truck to Prince George County for $100,000.