Although residents in Purcellville’s Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods agree that cut-through traffic should be curbed, they continued to disagree about what should be done.
The second meeting of the town-appointed technical advisory committee on the issue took place Thursday night at Town Hall. The focus was on the results of the pilot program, in which the town last month installed 10 removable barriers between East Country Club Drive and Ashleigh Road and rerouted through traffic to Glenmeade Circle. Interim Public Works Director Dawn Ashbacher led the two-hour meeting, being backed up by a panel of traffic experts, members of town and county staffs and Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman.
About 50 residents from the neighborhoods turned up, offering differing opinions on the best way to solve the traffic problem.
“It’s always better in my mind if people communicate face-to-face,” said Councilman Chris Bledsoe, who was also in attendance. “Having the face-to-face communication with people gives them the chance to understand that we’re all human.”
Ashbacher presented residents with a traffic count that showed the number of vehicles cutting through the neighborhood via West Country Club Drive and Glenmeade Circle before and after the pilot’s start. According to the numbers, traffic counts on West Country Club Drive went up by 86 trip between 7 and 9 a.m. and 65 between 4 and 6 p.m. On Glenmeade, they went up by 73 from 7-9 a.m. and 65 from 4-6 p.m.
Also addressing attendees were multiple community residents. Jeff Scott, a homeowner on West Country Club Drive and the one who spearheaded the community’s effort in soliciting action from the town, called for the barriers to be moved to the 33rd Street/Country Club Drive intersection to stop cut-through traffic altogether.
He also said that the current rerouting was unsafe, noting that Glenmeade Circle has many more cul-de-sacs than Country Club Drive—referring to them as “kid-safe zones.”
“I don’t want traffic going up to Western Country Club or Glenmeade,” he said. “I don’t want traffic going around here at all.”
In between presentations, Ashbacher asked residents point-blank what they thought about the current program, to which about 20 people agreed that it was working “to some extent” and about 10 who felt that it wasn’t working at all.
After hearing an hour of opposition, one resident spoke up with tears in her eyes and three children by her side. She said that all the back-and-forth argument has put residents at odds with each other.
“I’m so saddened that it’s come to this,” she said. “It’s us against them.”
Once a round of applause in support of that sentiment came to an end, Ashbacher said that pitting neighbors against each other was never part of the plan.
“Nobody wants this to divide your neighborhood,” she said. “Who knows, you might be the model cut-through traffic community.”
Two possible solutions were discussed in greater detail—installing barriers on 33rd Street and installing signage to restrict cut-through traffic during certain hours of the day. Loudoun County Chief Fire Marshal Linda Hale, who was on the committee’s panel of experts, said if signage is ever used, enforcement would have to step up. “I don’t know that all of the options have been up on the table yet,” she said.
Although the committee and residents did not come to a consensus and no future meeting dates were set, Ashbacher said the town would continue working to identify a way forward. “We are going to do some research before recommending next steps,” she said.
Cut-through traffic in the neighborhood has been an issue for three decades, as commuters have consistently used the neighborhood as a quick route to get from Main Street to 21st Street.
More recently, when Virginia Regional Transit announced plans to open a commuter parking lot along Hirst Road, residents again began to voice concern. In response to the outcry, the town initiated a pilot program on Feb. 16 that didn’t cut off cut-through traffic, but rerouted it.
Vehicles are now forced to turn left onto West Country Club Drive from 33rd Street and cut through the area using Glenmeade Circle, as opposed to turning right down the eastern portion of the residential street.