Residents in and around Purcellville’s Country Club Hills neighborhood recently came together to form a working group, as they continue their push to get cut-through traffic rerouted.
Currently, 133 homes within the Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods and along Ashleigh Road, Holly Lane and 33rd Street are affected by traffic taking a short cut between West Main Street and North 21st Street through their subdivisions.
According to Jeff Scott, a homeowner on Country Club Drive and the one spearheading the community’s initiative to put an end to the problem, about 1,200 cars cut through the neighborhood each week. Although a pilot program approved by the Town Council in November to put a barrier at the end North 33rd Street was never implemented, town leaders have since been working with residents to come up with a new solution.
Councilman Ryan Cool most recently met with a group of residents to discuss the issue last month.
“I do think that what came out of that meeting is we agreed to the safety issue,” he said. “I think we’ll go forward, make some good next steps.”
Town staff is looking at three possible solutions that could either install signage to prohibit vehicles from turning into the neighborhood during peak hours, install removable barriers on both ends of Glenmeade Circle just north of Country Club Drive or install removable barriers at the 33rd Street/Country Club Drive intersection, which was the original design of the pilot program.
The options of installing barriers at either location present a few difficulties for emergency and commercial traffic. The design would need to be accessible for fire trucks, postal vehicles, snowplows, garbage trucks and other emergency and delivery vehicles. School bus stops would also have to be repositioned onto Main Street, 21st Street or both, depending on where the barriers are positioned.
Although a resolution passed by Town Council in 2000 promised Glenmeade Circle would be an unrestricted connector road could throw a wrench in the solution, Interim Public Works Director Dale Lehnig said she suspects council might be able to pass a separate resolution to resolve the matter.
Because of an existing median on 33rd Street, installing barriers at the Country Club Drive intersection would also force residents living in the 13 households along 33rd and Holly Lane to either leave or return home on the wrong side of the road.
Staff members have determined that putting up signs to limit turns onto 33rd Street in the morning and onto Ashleigh Road in the afternoon would have the least impact on residents.
After hearing multiple complaints about the traffic from community residents, Town Council on Nov. 14 unanimously voted to approve a pilot program that would have installed six removable barriers at the 33rd Street/Country Club Drive intersection. The project was scheduled to begin in December and last 3-6 months, but it never got off the ground.
Some residents weren’t even aware of the planned pilot program. Jacqueline Gallman, an 8-year homeowner on Country Club Drive, said she was completely out of the loop until she read about it in a newspaper.
“I was not happy,” she said. “I had to read it several times to realize that this was going to effectively reroute me every single solitary day for work.”
Gallman questioned why the town didn’t plan to install signs before deciding to block access to the residential street altogether.
“I do not understand going from no trucks pass through to nobody at all pass through,” she said. “Why are we not taking this in stages?”
The cut-through traffic problem on Country Club Drive has been a concern since the early 1990s. To help alleviate the problem, the town in 2013 installed speed humps on 33rd Street, the eastern portion of Country Club Drive and Ashleigh Road. More recently, residents in the community voiced concerns about a potential increase in cut-through traffic upon completion of the VRT commuter lot off Hirst Road, which town council approved in November and could be operational as early as June.
In response to the outcry, the town conducted multiple traffic counts in the neighborhood last month. Upon finding that traffic was heaviest between 8-9 a.m. and 4-5 p.m., the town determined that most of the cut-through traffic was associated with those traveling to and from Woodgrove High School.
A working group meeting between two members of town staff and three residents from each neighborhood is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 24 at town hall. Interim Town Manager John Anzivino said input from that meeting would be used to finalize a plan to present town council on Feb. 13.
“It’s time for us to move forward with implementing a solution,” said Mayor Kwasi Fraser. “Let’s get it done.”