Purcellville leaders are hoping that adding a fourth traffic light to the congested Rt. 287 corridor will help keep rush hour traffic moving.
The Purcellville Town Council on Tuesday night voted unanimously to authorize Town Manager David Mekarski to request $700,000 from the county government to help pay for a project that will eventually construct a traffic signal at the Rt. 287/Eastgate Drive/Patrick Henry Circle intersection. If approved, the town will use that money to prepare a preliminary engineering report and design and to build the signal.
According to a staff report, new development, coupled with the 2013 completion of the Southern Collector Road, has created traffic congestion along Rt. 287 near the intersection. The Purcellville Gateway Traffic Impact Study from last October gave the intersection a service level rating of ‘F’ during weekday peak hours.
When Mayor Kwasi Fraser asked whether a traffic signal might improve that rating, Capital Projects & Engineering Manager Dale Lehnig said that the town would have to perform a study once it’s complete to make that determination.
The study will seek to identify improvements to an area along Rt. 287 between Hirst Road and Eastgate Drive that has been overlooked. Already, the town has made improvements just south of the intersection and the county plans to improve a section of the road north of the intersection between Hirst Road and Rt. 7 in the next few years.
Aside from the $700,000 worth of engineering and construction required for the project, the town intends to use its own resources for project management, to review plans and to inspect construction. Staff members said that proffers from nearby developments could be used to help fund these phases.
If approved, the initial phases of the project could begin as early as next July.
Aside from helping to alleviate traffic congestion during morning and afternoon peak hours, a traffic signal could improve safety at the intersection, a concern Councilman Joel Grewe said has been brought up by Patrick Henry College students.
“There’s been some concerns of late and a couple almost hits and runs where students were scampering to avoid cars,” he said. “The traffic goes through at a dense enough volume that even at a reduced speed limit there is a relatively significant risk to life and limb in crossing that particular road.”
Vice Mayor Ryan Cool noted that there is a isn’t lighting at the intersection, something he said the college may have neglected to put in. “The lighting…that should be there as an entrance was never done,” he said.
Lehnig said that the Holtzman Oil Corp., which is developing the Catoctin Corner commercial center next door to the college, may have agreed with the college to put lights in at the intersection. “As we look at some of these occupancy certificates for Catoctin Corner, we can bring that up again,” she said.
The funding request will be considered for inclusion in the county administrator’s proposed Capital Improvement Program if it aligns with county funding guidelines. The Board of Supervisors’ Finance Committee will then review it in February and make a recommendation to the board, which will adopt the plan in April and inform the town whether or not the request has been approved at that point.
The county is moving ahead with plans to construct another Rt. 7 interchange on the western side of town, which will take traffic off the Rt. 287 corridor, but that project isn’t scheduled for completion until 2023.