The planned 32nd/A Street roundabout in southwestern Purcellville is well on its way toward becoming the “gateway” to the town by the end of next year.
Town Capital Projects & Engineering Manager Dale Lehnig led a public information meeting on the $1 million project Wednesday night, along with the roundabout’s engineers Brent Showalter and Don Rissmeyer, both from the A. Morton Thomas and Associates engineering firm. The team spoke to a small group of Hirst Farm residents about the justification, design, funding and timeline of the project.
According to Lehnig, the single-lane roundabout would be about the size of the one at the Rt. 690/Alder School Road intersection near Woodgrove High School and is planned to slow drivers down as they enter the town with a 10 mph speed limit. Lehnig also said it would serve as a “gateway to the town,” with construction scheduled to begin in spring 2019 and end by the fall. It will cost $1,012,000, which will be split equally between VDOT and Northern Virginia Transportation Authority funds.
Although residents expressed some concern about potential speeding and wrecks in the roundabout, comparing it to the two-lane circle at the Berlin Turnpike/Main Street intersection that was built in 2013, Lehnig pointed out that the new roundabout would be much smaller and slower.
Showalter also noted that 32nd and A Streets would remain two lanes. He said that although the roads would need to be widened to make room for the roundabout and its accompanying islands, the majority of the widening would be on the undeveloped western quadrant of the intersection, which is owned by a private party and could be developed in the near future.
He also mentioned that the design calls for the installation of four 30-foot light poles. Neighbors raised concerns about the lights and their potential disruption of the night sky.
Katie Dunnigan, a resident on Gatepost Court located directly behind the intersection, said that she would be able to see the roundabout and its lighting from her backyard every day and that the existing lighting along A Street provides “plenty of illumination.”
“The lighting more than anything concerns me,” she said. “We live in western Loudoun and it’s becoming not western Loudoun anymore.”
According to Rissmeyer, the lighting would be compliant with the town’s lighting requirements, which are in place to “protect neighbors and the night sky from nuisance glare and stray or spillover light,” according to the town’s zoning ordinance.
Lehnig and the engineers made it clear that the town would continue to look at the design to determine whether the light poles are absolutely needed. “We’re trying to avoid any negative consequences, so it’s good to hear about the lighting,” Rissmeyer said.
Another resident expressed concern about building a roundabout instead of a three- or four-way stop, noting that a full stop might be safer for children in the neighborhood.
According to Rissmeyer, the roundabout’s small size would force drivers to slow down, while continuing to accommodate the intersection’s high volume of traffic.
“It does a really good job of slowing everybody down,” he said. “They have to slow down because they’ll literally drive straight across the roundabout if they don’t.”
According to the design, two crosswalks are also planned to connect both sides of 32nd Street, as well as one connecting the northern and southern side of A Street.
Aside from the project’s design, one resident voiced his opinion on its overall pertinence. He said that the town should be looking to add a left turn lane on Berlin Turnpike for drivers entering westbound Rt. 7, since the lack thereof is currently backing up northbound traffic.
Lehnig said this would not be a town project because VDOT maintains the location.
The resident also said that the town should be looking for ways to improve the 32nd/Main Street intersection. According to a June 2016 traffic study by Kimley Horn, it currently takes drivers an average of 30 seconds to turn left onto westbound Main Street from 32nd Street from 7:30-8:30 a.m. and almost two minutes to do so from 5:15-6:15 p.m.,
Lehnig said the town requested $450,000 in VDOT revenue sharing funds to improve this intersection last November and that VDOT indicated it would be willing to provide 85 percent of that. She said the town would get a definitive answer by the end of this month.
The town is working to obtain rights-of-way and easements from the property owner on the western side of the 32nd/A Street intersection and is waiting for VDOT’s approval on the roundabout design.
Lehnig said the town would solicit construction bids by December before making a selection on one and moving forward with the project by March or April 2019.