Nearly a year after the Town of Purcellville began addressing concerns of cut-through traffic in the Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods, those residents now have a permanent solution to the years-old problem.
The Town Council on Jan. 22 confirmed that the signage restricting traffic from turning into the communities during morning and afternoon peak hours has given town staff and residents the results they were looking for and would remain in place permanently. The council also discussed 11 initiatives recommended by Town Manager David Mekarski aimed to stabilize the volume and speed of traffic and to increase pedestrian safety there.
After hearing residents’ concern about traffic toward the end of 2017, the town created the Technical Advisory Committee—led by then-Interim Public Works Director Dawn Ashbacher and made up of town and county staff members and traffic experts—in February 2018 to discuss possible solutions with residents. The committee met six times between March and November.
Last February, the town installed 10 removable barriers on Glenmeade Circle that didn’t cut off cut-through traffic, but rerouted it to the western end of the neighborhoods. Town counts found that traffic increased by about 350 vehicle trips along West Country Club Drive and by about 400 along Glenmeade Circle—Catoctin Meadows’ main artery.
In May, the town installed signage that restricts traffic from using the neighborhood as a shortcut avoiding the downtown area. From 6-9 a.m., Main Street traffic is prohibited 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 is prohibited from turning onto 33rd Street.
The town removed the barriers three weeks later, leaving the signage in place. According to town data collected in June, that decision decreased average daily vehicle trips along West Country Club Drive by 285 and along Glenmeade by 256.
The town found that solution to work best among the three. “The ultimate goal [of the pilot projects] was to provide pedestrian safety and to manage traffic cut throughs,” Mekarski said.
Stefanie Egee, a West Country Club Drive resident and a mother of two, said that she’s happy with the decrease in traffic and that she and her family feel safe now. “We’re resting easy and not as concerned,” she said. “We’re happy.”
To keep traffic at bay from, Mekarski is recommending that the town adhere to a set of precautions.
His first three recommendations deal with traffic volume and include ideas to keep the restrictive signage in place; have the town staff continue to monitor Google Maps and WAZE to ensure they don’t route traffic through the neighborhoods; and have the Public Works Department conduct quarterly, one-week traffic counts.
If traffic exceeds 75 vehicle trips during a one-hour period, or if the total average daily volume exceeds 500 vehicles, the town may take additional action.
Mekarski’s next four recommendations relate to traffic speed and enforcement and include ideas to continue using radar signs and have the police department implement six initiatives—hold a speed gun demonstration with residents, use radar to deter speeders, set a 5 mph threshold for traffic stops, enforce stop sign and turn violations at least one day each week, set up a ghost car (an unoccupied police cruiser) at least one day each week and conduct quarterly or biannual traffic counts.
Mekarski also had one idea to improve pedestrian safety that would have town staff members explore options for installing sidewalks along Country Club Drive. According to a staff report, the town would discuss any feasible options with community residents to determine how to proceed. Although drainage ditches in many front yards might pose some problems with sidewalk installation, Mekarski said that options exist if the town can secure permanent easements from residents. He said that sidewalks “could go a long way toward enhancing the community and providing safety [to residents].”
Egee said that, while she doesn’t feel sidewalks are needed now that traffic counts are down, they might be warranted if those numbers go back up.
The Town Council will vote on Mekarski’s recommendations and to close out the pilot programs at its Feb. 12 meeting.