Six months after the Town of Purcellville enacted hour-hour restrictions to curb cut-through traffic in the Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods, residents agree it’s working. Now speeders are the issue.
The town’s Technical Advisory Committee met for a sixth time Wednesday night to discuss with eight residents the current signage that prohibits vehicles from turning into the community during morning and afternoon peak hours. Led by Dawn Ashbacher, the former interim public works director, the committee reviewed the impacts of the current signage and found that residents are now more focused on their neighbors’ safety and the speed of the traffic, rather than the volume.
To cut down on cut-through traffic, the town in February installed 10 barriers between East Country Club Drive and Ashleigh Road and then later removed them and put up signage to restrict traffic.
From 6-9 a.m., the signs prohibit Main Street traffic from turning onto 33rd Street. From 4-6 p.m., 21st Street traffic is prohibited from turning onto Ashleigh Road and Country Club Drive traffic from turning onto 33rd Street.
According to town data, the median speed on Glenmeade Circle on Aug. 10 was 21.5 mph, with the fastest car driving 38 mph. On Country Club Drive, the median was 17.5 mph, with the fastest car driving 35 mph.
One resident said that although she frequently sees drivers blowing through stop signs, she could deal with drivers at least slowly gliding through them. “I still have a huge beef with people not stopping at the stop signs,” she said.
Police Chief Cynthia McAlister proposed that a “ghost car” be placed in the community to deter speeders, since the empty cruiser that the county sheriff’s office has parked along Colonial Highway in Hamilton slows her down every time. “The thing is to be predictably unpredictable,” she said.
Another resident said that because Country Club Drive has no sidewalks, the street doubles as a sidewalk. “What speed do you want people driving down a road that is essentially your neighborhood sidewalk,” he asked.
When a discussion of possibly installing sidewalks along the street arose, Town Manager David Mekarski said that the town would need to get easements from residents to build them, which one resident said that she would oppose because it would tear up her yard.
Mekarski also mentioned that there are drainage ditches along the road that could make installing sidewalks difficult. Capital Projects & Engineering Manager Dale Lehnig also noted that it would be expensive to install them overtop of the ditches.
For now, the town will continue counting traffic. If traffic levels reach 75 vehicle trips in one hour or 500 in a day, the town will take further action.
On Oct. 2, the town counted a peak of 16 trips from 2-3 p.m. on Country Club Drive, with a total of 126 for the day. On Glenmeade, it counted a peak of 37 from 3-4 p.m., with a total of 370 for the day.
Since March, the committee has solicited resident feedback, trying to find a solution to cut-through traffic. On Feb. 16, the town installed the 10 barriers, which rerouted traffic down Glenmeade Circle and angered Catoctin Meadows and West Country Club Drive residents who were then faced with increased volumes of cut-through traffic.
After the barriers were installed, the town found that traffic on weekdays increased along West Country Club Drive from an average of about 133 to 491. Along Glenmeade Circle—Catoctin Meadows’ main artery—traffic increased from 308 to 697.
Once the barriers were removed and the signage was installed in May, Ashbacher told residents that the signage would stay up until fall to see how well they would deter cut-through traffic once Allder School Road was reopened in late June, once the Virginia Regional Transit commuter lot opened in July and once school started back up in late August.
“We’ve gotten to a spot that’s a good balance between two communities,” said Catoctin Meadows resident John Hildebrand.