Jacksonport Tables Traffic Issues

As a result of the Dec. 1 business forum convened by the Jacksonport Plan Commission, the Jacksonport Town Board had two items from that forum on its Dec. 15 agenda – engine braking by trucks and speeding through the downtown area.

Town Chair Randy Halstead said he had talked to Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej about the air braking problem and was told the town would have to enact an ordinance to put up signs warning against using air brakes, which prompted town supervisor Tim Bley to say people don’t understand what air braking does.

“It’s not just to annoy people,” he said. “It saves brakes.”

Halstead said even though there would be no penalties involved and there is no one to enforce a town ordinance, signs would help with the problem.

Elm Drive resident Marjorie Andrae spoke in the public comment portion of the meeting about the dusk to dawn sound of air braking she and her husband Dan hear in their “nice, quiet rural setting.”

“If you do pass an ordinance, it makes truckers aware that it’s not an acceptable practice,” she said. “As far as enforcing it, I like to think that everybody would choose to be a good citizen and not do it because it’s either irritating to the town or it’s irritating to me, to my solitude, and I think it’s appropriate to have an ordinance.”

Halstead pointed out that Egg Harbor has an air brake sign that says they can only be used in an emergency.

Plan Commission Chair Bob Kufrin said both the air braking and speeding issues were addressed at the group’s Dec. 14 meeting, and the commission had decided to have a recommendation in time for the town board’s January meeting recommending that the town board have Sheriff Steve Delarwelle or a representative from the department talk to the board about the options available to the town for traffic issues before any action is taken by the town.

Town Supervisor Tom Wilson said he did not know enough about engine braking to make a decision on it.

Farmer Mark Haberli explained that truck drivers are especially challenged in Door County where a hill awaits them at the entrance to every town.

“And you’ve got 80,000 pounds pushing,” Haberli said. “The engine brake is an exhaust brake. It puts a retention on the motor that slows that truck down.”

Halstead made a motion that the town come up with an ordinance, but it failed to get a second. Wilson then moved that the board have someone from the sheriff’s department come for a question and answer session before the town takes any action. The board decided to do the same with the speeding issue.

Engine Braking Explained

Many terms are used for this diesel engine braking system designed to take the pressure off – engine braking, air braking, compression release braking and Jake braking, which refers to the Jacobs’ Compression Release Brake.

According to Jacobs Vehicle Systems, makers of the Jacobs’ Compression Release Brake takes the load off the foundation brakes of a loaded truck “turning your power-producing diesel engine into a power-absorbing air compressor using a compression-release mechanism.”

How A Compression Release Brake Works

When activated, the Jacobs Engine Brake opens the exhaust valves near the top of the compression stroke, releasing the highly compressed air through the exhaust system. Little energy is returned to the piston, and as the cycle repeats, the energy of the truck’s forward motion is dissipated, causing the truck to slow down.

Compression Release Benefits

  • Capable of 85 percent of vehicle braking needs
  • Enables faster downhill control speed
  • Reduces slowing time/distances on flat land, slowing a heavily loaded vehicle from 55 to 43 MPH in 30 percent less time and distance
  • Maintain higher average speed
  • Significantly reduces brake wear



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