Dead End: Traffic Barriers Go Up in Country Club Hills

Three months after the Purcellville Town Council voted to alleviate cut-through traffic in the Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods, new traffic barriers are in place.

The town today launched a one-month pilot program by installing 10 removable barriers on the eastern section of Glenmeade Circle, between Ashleigh Road and Country Club Drive. Two speed bumps were also installed along Glenmeade. While the barriers will stop traffic from using the eastern portion of Country Club Drive as a shortcut between Main Street to 21st Street, drivers can still cut through the neighborhood using the western portion of Country Club Drive and all of Glenmeade Circle—a slightly longer route.

To inform residents of the route change, the town sent them a letter on Feb. 2, followed by an email from Mayor Kwasi Fraser the next day. “I understand we cannot please everyone on this, but inaction on this safety and welfare issue is not an option,” Fraser wrote.

Although the rerouting may appeal to about 20 residences on the eastern portion of Country Club Drive, it has upset others living on the western portion of the street, in addition to those on Glenmeade Circle and in the cul-de-sacs along the way. Nine residents raised concerns about the plan during Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, most agreeing that the problem was not solved, but simply moved to another area of the neighborhood.

Walter Gibbs, a resident on Oakleigh Court, said the program is “the worst of the many bad ideas” he’s heard throughout the process. He said there are more children and more intersections on Glenmeade Circle than on Country Club Drive and that Glenmeade is curved, which could lead to speeding drivers running stop signs around blind corners. “People are going to speed right by the intersection at Oakleigh,” he said. “Accidents happen at intersections.”

While most residents were opposed to the pilot program, a few commended town council for moving forward and implementing something.

“I am in full support of the delineators that you are piloting,” said Courtney Williams, a homeowner on the corner of Ashleigh Road and Dresden Court. “I think it’s absolutely worth a shot.”

Williams said she’s hopeful drivers won’t cut through the neighborhood if it’s no longer a shortcut.

After hearing residents speak, Fraser said the pilot program would be implemented not as an end-all cure, but as a way to test potential solutions.

“We need to keep this in the perspective that this is just a pilot and we need to move forward as such,” he said. “We could not start out with the ultimate solution … that’s not practical.”

He also told residents that if the town doesn’t like what it sees before the end of the month, the barriers could be taken down and possibly moved to the 33rd Street/Country Club Drive intersection—a location many residents prefer.

Councilman Ryan Cool suggested council and staff start thinking about a phase two for the program now.

The decision to act on the matter comes after three months of discussions between Town Council, staff and residents. During a meeting Nov. 14, the council 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 three to six months, but was never carried out.

Instead, on Jan. 9, the council discussed three possible solutions—one that could have installed signage to prohibit vehicles from turning into the neighborhood during peak hours, one that could have installed removable barriers on both ends of Glenmeade Circle, and one that could have implemented the original plan from November.

Cut-through traffic has been a concern in the neighborhood for three decades. To help with the problem, the town in 2013 installed speed humps on 33rd Street, the eastern portion of Country Club Drive and Ashleigh Road. Beginning early last year, residents in the community started voicing concern about a potential increase in cut-through traffic once the VRT commuter lot off Hirst Road begins operations this summer. According to recent traffic counts by residents, more than 1,000 cars currently use Country Club Drive as a cut-through each week.

Fraser has suggested creating a committee of residents, town staff and council members to discuss the program’s effect. Interim Town Manager John Anzivino said the staff and council would talk through the logistics before making a decision on it at the Jan. 27 town council meeting.

Leave a Reply