Country Club Hills Residents Still Concerned About Cut-Through Traffic

Eight weeks after the Purcellville government leaders expressed confidence that restrictive signage was the solution to cut-through traffic in the Country Club Hills and Catoctin Meadows neighborhoods, some residents are claiming the problem is still just as bad as ever.

In late 2017, when Virginia Regional Transit announced it would build a commuter parking lot along Hirst Road, residents began expressing concern about a potential increase in cut-through traffic. To deter cut-throughs, the town in February 2018 initiated a pilot project and installed 10 removable barriers on Glenmeade Circle.

Because those only rerouted traffic to the western end of the neighborhood, the town in May took those down and installed signage restricting Main Street traffic from turning onto 33rd Street from 6-9 a.m. The signage also restricted 21st Street traffic from turning onto Ashleigh Road and Country Club Drive traffic from turning onto 33rd Street from 4-6 p.m.

That seemed to please most residents, as it decreased average daily vehicle trips along West Country Club Drive by 285 and along Glenmeade by 256, according to town data. On Feb. 12, the Town Council voted unanimously, with Vice Mayor Ryan Cool and Councilman Ted Greenly absent, to accept Town Manager David Mekarski’s recommendation to close out the pilot project and keep the signage in place permanently.

A few residents along the eastern portion of West Country Club Drive, however, now say that cut-through traffic is still a problem.

One of those residents is Derrick Jaastad, who presented the Town Council last month with a photo of skid marks and a damaged stop sign at the Country Club Drive/33rd Street intersection—an intersection that sits directly next to a school bus stop. “I’ve got evidence that there are safety concerns here,” he said.

Jaastad’s neighbor, Bill Conover, also addressed the council with concerns about kids’ safety.

“I really don’t want to be standing here one day with an emergency paramedic,” he said. “I’m not trying to be dramatic, but it’s real.”

After an investigation of the scene, Deputy Police Chief Dave Dailey said the department determined that the skid marks and damaged stop sign were most likely not the products of a car driving recklessly through the intersection, but probably came from a trailer taking a wide turn and clipping the sign.

Nonetheless, Conover presented numbers to back up claims that cut-through traffic is still problematic. He said that he recently stood along 33rd Street near Holly Lane from 6-9 a.m. one day and counted 17 vehicles cutting through the community illegally. He said he also stood there in the afternoon with Dailey for about an hour and counted 21 vehicles cutting through illegally.

According to town traffic counts from Monday to Friday on March 4-8, there was a daily average of 41 eastbound cut-throughs along Country Club Drive from 6-9 a.m. and a daily average of 55 westbound cut throughs along the street from 4-6 p.m.

Conover asked council members and the town staff to consider implementing five possible solutions—to increase random police enforcement, to post traffic counts on the town website, to place radar detectors along 33rd Street, to install an “Additional $250 Fine” sign in the neighborhood and to extend the no-cut-through hours by an hour, restricting Country Club Drive traffic from turning onto 33rd Street from 4-7 p.m.

Conover noted that he counted an additional 17 vehicles cutting through the neighborhood between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., which is outside of the current restrictive hours. He attributes that increase in traffic to the longer hours of sunlight now that daylight savings time has begun.

“I ask you to think about these enhancements,” he said. “Don’t forget about us on Country Club Drive.”

Mekarski said that while the town’s traffic counts show that the restrictive signage has reduced cut through traffic, the town is taking residents’ concerns into consideration.

Police Chief Cynthia McAlister agreed with Mekarski that the signage “made an incredible difference” in reducing cut-through traffic. She said the Loudoun County Public School System would conduct a study to determine if moving the school bus stop is a viable option, per her request.

She also mentioned that the police department would incorporate traffic counts into the reports it gives the Town Council from now on.

Dailey said the department would also increase its random enforcement in the community. “We’ll continue to monitor,” he said.

pszabo@loudounnow.com

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