Residents attending last week’s Purcellville Town Council meeting raised concerns about plans to establish a commuter parking lot at the Virginia Regional Transit office off East Hirst Road.
The majority of speakers who addressed the council were homeowners on West Country Club Road. They said their residential street already is used by rush-hour commuters to bypass stopped traffic turning onto North 21st Street from Main Street. Residents said they worried that opening a commuter lot along Hirst Road would make that problem worse.
According to Interim Town Manager Alex Vanegas, the biggest reason traffic would increase after the lot’s opening is because some of the commuters who now park at the lot east of Hamilton would instead park in Purcellville to catch rides on the county’s commuter buses.
Country Club resident Bob Anderson got the public conversation started.
“There are so many commuter vehicles going through that subdivision that it has created a safety hazard,” he said. “It’s constant.”
Another resident on the street, Bill Conover, said he sees commuter traffic as early as 4:45 in the morning. Although he said he is concerned about a traffic increase, he also acknowledged the lot’s importance.
“Virginia Transit has the right to put that in there,” he said. “It provides a service for the community.”
After hearing residents speak, Eric Zicht of Zicht & Associates, VRT’s representative, urged the council to heed concerns by increasing traffic calming measures. Vanegas later said if the lot was approved, the town might ask VRT for contributions to help with such measures.
Zicht said the proposal meets a community need.
“Is there a better site for it? None that I know of,” he said. “It’s really needed now.”
Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman assured residents the council’s decision to permit or deny the lot’s construction would be well thought out.
“I’m taking this very, very seriously,” he said. “Buses come and go, but we’re going to be living here through all of this.”
Zicht & Associates submitted a revised application on behalf of VRT in July 2016 to get town approval for construction of the lot, which would only be in use until a new one is built near the planned Rt. 7/Rt. 690 interchange in the next few years. Zicht has been working with the town’s Planning Commission on the design ever since.
The Planning Commission last month recommended Town Council approve VRT’s revised application, with conditions that prohibit bus parking and/or queuing on Bailey Lane, prohibit cars and buses from exiting at the same spot and require buses to exit onto Bailey Lane before turning west onto East Hirst.
The council is expected to vote on the application Oct. 24.
“We’re going to meet with the residents over there to see what other ways we could mitigate [cut-through traffic],” Vanegas said.