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New crosswalks to reduce risk in downtown Purcellville

On any given day in downtown Purcellville, cars barrel past pedestrians waiting to cross Main Street. The drivers aren’t being rude. They just don’t see pedestrians waiting – and this is a huge risk.

The Purcellville Town Council instructed its staff to ask the Virginia Department of Transportation for permission to create improved crosswalks during its Tuesday night meeting.

“There is no question that this would be a huge improvement and necessary,” said Council Member Kelli Grim.

The crosswalk as it is now has caused several near-accidents and complaints. Citizens and families often cross the street to visit shops and Gruto’s Soft Serve draws pedestrian crowds during the summer.

Pedestrians cannot always see approaching vehicles because cars parked along the north side of Main Street block their view. Drivers cannot always spot pedestrians waiting on the curb because the crosswalk isn’t clearly marked.

In addition, the crosswalk curb in front of Catoctin Street Distilling Co. is not currently ADA-compliant.

Public Works Department Director Alex Vanegas recommended several options, such as limiting Main Street parking during peak hours and placing a crosswalk sign in the middle of Main Street on the weekends. He provided two options for the crosswalk: either a $12,000 stamped asphalt design that matches other downtown crosswalks or $1,000 thermoplastic striping.

The council opted for the cheaper thermoplastic.

In addition, Vanegas recommended that the town educate citizens on crosswalk etiquette.

“Pedestrians make the assumption, because they are at the corner, that vehicles have to stop for them. It’s actually when they enter the crosswalk that vehicles must stop,” Vanegas said.

However, because the crosswalk crosses a narrow street with speeding traffic, people are understandably reluctant to step from the curb.

Any changes to the crosswalk will require VDOT’s approval because this portion of Main Street is state-owned. Assuming VDOT’s agreement, new crosswalks could be laid down within the next two months.

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