As traffic concerns continue to plague Loudoun’s towns and villages, Purcellville’s name has been added to the ever-growing list.
Traffic on the town’s Main Street has increasingly become a hassle for commuters heading to and from work during rush hour. The street, which bisects the town, is one of the only routes residents can use to access Rt. 7. The only other routes residents have are the southern collector road and Hirst Road, which parallel Main Street to the south and north respectively.
In 2016, a Kimley-Horn traffic study conducted at the 32nd/Main Street intersection showed about 600 cars heading eastbound on Main Street between 7:30 and 8:30 in the morning and almost 700 heading westbound in the evening between 5:15 and 6:15. Mayor Kwasi Fraser said the southern collector road, which opened in 2013, “hasn’t entirely succeeded” in alleviating Main Street traffic and that Hirst Road currently has a quality of service rating of F for morning peak hour traffic.
One town resident seeking to address the problem has been County Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge), who sent a letter last month to Town Council offering his help in seeking county government funding for an internal transportation study.
“Right now, Main Street traffic is basically a nightmare during rush hour,” he said. “You have to address quality of life issues for existing residents.”
Fraser said the council has adequately addressed traffic congestion and is working on seven different projects to alleviate it.
One is plans for a traffic light at the 32nd/Main Street intersection, for which the town in November submitted an application to VDOT for funding. If approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in June, the town would receive half of the estimated $900,000 to complete the project. The remainder could be pulled from the town’s portion of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Fund.
“The next step will be to move forward with the design, selecting a design engineer through an RFP (request for proposal) process,” said Dale Lehnig, the town’s capital projects and engineering director.
Fraser said town leaders have also supported the Fields Farm Park Road proposal, which would connect Rt. 690 with Mayfair Crown Drive and add another entrance to Woodgrove High School. The road would also add a second entrance to the proposed commuter lot at the Virginia Regional Transit headquarters off Hirst Road, which town council approved in November in the hopes of removing commuter buses from Main Street.
Fraser said the town is also working on improvements to the Main Street/Maple Avenue and Hirst Road/Rt. 287 intersections, working to build a roundabout at the 32nd/A Street intersection and obtaining quotes for an updated Transportation and Traffic Study Plan.
Another aid for the congestion through town could be the highly contested northern collector road, which would connect Rt. 287 with Rt. 690 to give commuters yet another option aside from cutting through town on Main Street. Town council in September, however, sent a request to the Board of Supervisors to remove the road from the Countywide Transportation Plan because of its potential impact on residents in the Wright Farm neighborhood north of town.
Fraser said that a Kimley-Horn study conducted in 2015 showed no sign of “significant current or future reduction in traffic congestion to justify the environmental and property impacts” of building that road connection.
“The proposed route looks like a redundant road along Rt. 7 West that is being built to be lined with future development, leading to more congestion,” he said. “A new road that will disturb existing neighborhoods and the environment to mitigate some future uncertain traffic issue is not prudent.”
The county Board of Supervisors has taken no action on the project since June, when it was put on pause pending the construction of the Rt. 7/690 interchange, which is scheduled for construction beginning in late 2022 and is overwhelmingly supported by town council.
Fraser said the interchange’s completion would improve traffic on Hirst Road, boosting its quality of service rating to “A” for morning peak hour traffic.
“I firmly belief the proposed interchange will provide relief from the congestion in town,” he said. “The voters supported the funding of this solution and it should be pursued most expeditiously to benefit Purcellville and western Loudoun.”