Following two years of planning and resident backlash, the Town of Purcellville next week will finally get its own dedicated commuter parking lot.
Virginia Regional Transit’s 80-space commuter lot off Hirst Road is set to open Monday, July 16, replacing the leased 68-space commuter lot at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church on Main Street. Loudoun Transit will continue its operations out of this new location, which will have room to expand to 220 parking spaces and should help to alleviate traffic concerns at the Harmony Park & Ride Lot near Hamilton. The 2.8-acre lot is only a temporary solution, as bus service will relocate to a new 250-space Western Loudoun County Park & Ride Lot near the planned Rt. 7/690 interchange by 2023.
“I think it’s a great intermediate solution,” said county Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge). “That is definitely the plan.”
According to Scott Gross, the Loudoun County Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure’s transit and commuter services division manager, seven buses will depart the Purcellville lot in the mornings, with 19 arriving in the afternoon.
In addition to two long haul bus routes will that travel between the lot and Washington, DC, Loudoun Transit’s Route 40 Purcellville Connector will also shuttle residents to and from Leesburg on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. “This will provide neighborhood-level connectivity to the park and ride lot that does not exist for those residents now,” Gross said.
Also, Loudoun Transit’s Metro Connection bus service will start service at the Purcellville lot on Sept. 1, running to and from the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station Monday through Friday, with up to seven trips departing every 25 minutes in the mornings and afternoons.
While the layout of the lot and flow of buses in and out was once a point of contention among adjacent property owners, the plans have since been worked out. Once opened on Monday, buses will enter the lot from Browning Court and exit on Bailey Lane before turning west onto Hirst Road. Buses will not be allowed to turn east onto Hirst Road or park or queue on Bailey Lane. Commuters will be required to enter and exit the lot from Browning Court.
According to Eric Zicht, the project engineer, Loudoun Transit originally intended for its buses to load and unload in Browning Court to keep them from mixing with commuter traffic. Zicht said that design, however, conflicted with GeoStructures’ operations, which uses the Browning Court cul-de-sac to prepare its construction vehicles each morning. “That would be maybe two operations that were in conflict,” he said.
The drive to open the commuter lot began in July 2016, when the Zicht & Associates engineering firm submitted an application to the town on behalf of VRT. When the town approved the request last November, residents from the Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods began to raise some concern that the lot could increase cut-through traffic in their community.
This prompted the town to initiate multiple phases of a pilot program that now restricts traffic from entering the neighborhood during morning and afternoon peak hours.
According to West Country Club Drive resident Stefanie Egee, that signage is working. Egee said if the commuter lot does increase cut-through traffic in the neighborhood, the town would most likely address it immediately. “I really feel the town has proven that they’re focused on this to come up with a solution that works,” she said.
Overall, Buffington said he feels that residents will benefit from the lot. “I’m hopeful the transition will improve the quality of life for residents,” he said.
Since the town approved the lot’s site plan in May, the lot has been restriped, two pre-built bus waiting shelters have been installed, about 50 feet of sidewalk has been added and a few trees have been planted to conform with town zoning ordinance requirements. “This was a rather simple [project],” Zicht said.