The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted to use speed displays to address several traffic concerns in the Village of Waterford.
The board in late January voted unanimously to address the “excessive vehicular speeding and volume” through the town. Residents point to the cut-through-traffic as the root of the concerns.
Catoctin Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R), who represents to the area, made the motion after it was brought to the attention of former Supervisor Geary Higgins (R) in 2015.
“I understand high-speed traffic, how important it is, especially in small towns—especially in a town like Waterford where the roads are narrow—and I hope that some of these solutions including the signs will help,” Kershner said.
The board directed county staff to initiate the process to install three pole-mounted speed display signs (PMSD) at Loyalty Road, First Street and Clarke's Gap Road as an interim traffic calming measure.
Furthermore, the board authorized the transfer of $100,000 from the Traffic Calming Contingency account in the Capital Fund to the Traffic Calming Signs Project in the Capital Projects Fund for the installation, directed staff to continue reviewing the viability of other traffic-calming measures at the three entry points of the village and to review the viability of chicanes or chokers as the ultimate traffic-calming improvement solution at the three entry points of the village.
Numerous studies of traffic in Waterford have been conducted over the years, including an October 2019 survey indicating that vehicles were traveling an average of 12 mph above the speed limits through Waterford. Routes 662 (Clarke's Gap Road/Second Street), 665 (High Street/Loyalty Road), 698 (Water Street) and 785 (Main Street/First Street) were used in the study. All those locations have speed limits of 20 mph.
In a letter to county staff from the Waterford Citizens Association, the group states, “The constant stream of vehicles during peak rush hours makes it difficult to safely walk our narrow streets.”
Residents expressed concerns for children and adults at Waterford Elementary School and during village events such as market days, weddings and festivals.
A 2018 study by Johnson, Mirmiran and Thompson identified a commuter cut-through problem in Waterford that qualifies the village for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Residential Cut-Through Program, according to county records.
However, the group says that the study’s proposed solutions do not account for Waterford’s National Historic Landmark status and would not reduce traffic for the village as a whole.
As it states in WCA’s counter-proposal, “Waterford presents a unique problem: because it is a National Historic Landmark, its streets cannot be significantly altered or modernized without risking the village’s landmark status. Hillsboro’s roundabouts and Middleburg’s central traffic lights can’t be implemented here. But something must be done in the near term to reduce traffic volumes village wide and improve safety for residents and visitors.”
A total of 31 PMSD signs are currently in Loudoun, according to county staff. The signs will provide a real-time, dynamic display of drivers’ speeds and encourage drivers to comply with the posted speed limit.
County staff hopes to report back to the board in July.
The Village of Waterford is a National Historic Landmark that includes a collection of 18th- and 19th-century buildings set within 1,420 acres of farmland in western Loudoun.