Barriers Stay Up: Purcellville Solicits Additional Resident, Expert Input

Although it seemed like residents in Purcellville’s Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods were getting close to a solution to curb cut-through traffic, there will be another round of study for the problem.

About 25 residents from the neighborhoods met at Town Hall on Thursday night during the third Technical Advisory Committee meeting to get an answer as to why the 10 removable barriers on Glenmeade Circle—which were installed between East Country Club Drive and Ashleigh Road nine weeks ago to help reduce cut-through traffic—have yet to be removed.

Recent outcry related to high volumes of cut-through traffic in the neighborhoods initially led the town to install the barriers. When they went up on Feb. 16 and began to reroute traffic from East Country Club Drive to West Country Club Drive and to Glenmeade Circle, town leaders said they would remain in place until April 9. On April 10, under pressure from residents, the Town Council agreed to remove them by last Thursday.

Town Manager David Mekarski, however, decided this week to keep them in place until he could hear from the committee, which was formed last month to discuss the community’s cut-through traffic problem. The panel is led by Interim Public Works Director Dawn Ashbacher and made up oftown and county staff members and traffic experts. “I felt that [removing the barriers] would have been premature,” Mekarski said.

The meeting focused on whether the town should remove the barriers before or after it installs signage to restrict cut-through traffic during morning and afternoon peak hours. The signage plan, which the Town Council endorsed last week, calls for “do not enter signs” to keep traffic from turning onto 33rd Street from Main Street from 6-9 a.m. and from Country Club Drive from 4-6 p.m.

Committee member Tom Folse, the assistant district traffic engineer for the VDOT’s Northern Virginia District office, suggested that the barriers remain in place until after the signage is installed. He said that would help to keep cut-through traffic at bay. “I think there’s value in having an overlap there,” he said.

Folse also recommended that the town not use the “do not enter signs” because of their specific intent—to restrict drivers from going the wrong way down one-way streets. 33rd Street is not a one-way street.

“It’s a very strong message,” he said. “I think the ‘do not enter’ sign sends the wrong message to people.”

West Country Club Drive resident Jeff Scott asked the committee why cars would be prohibited from turning onto 33rd Street from Country Club Drive in the afternoons, since those cars would have already cut through the neighborhood and have been at its southern exit by that point.

“Why not put [the signage] on Ashleigh [Road],” he asked. “Let them learn at the point of entry.”

Folse pointed out that signage restricting afternoon turns onto Ashleigh Road might not be ideal for some residents, however, because it would force them to drive around to the Main Street/33rd Street intersection to legally enter the community.

In response, Vice Mayor Nedim Ogelman suggested that residents could have windshield decals giving them permission to enter the neighborhood.

Also briefly discussed were the options to install barriers at the 33rd Street/Country Club Drive intersection or at the east and west ends of Glenmeade Circle. Loudoun County Chief Fire Marshal Linda Hale, also a committee member, was adamant that getting county approval to install barriers here would be tough, because emergency vehicles would need enough space to get through and turn around.

Although the committee took no action at Thursday night’s meeting, Mekarski said he would talk matters over with town staff and committee members before coming to a decision on the next step.

“If we walk away from the process and the community and the neighborhood is divided, it’s going to be a failure,” he said. “I’ve had very few failures in my professional career.”

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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