In our last issue, assistant editor John Cotey told you that Hillsborough County had anted up $250,000 in an effort to end the long-time stalemate involving the City of Tampa, Hillsborough and Pasco counties regarding connecting Kinnan St. in New Tampa to Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe II at the Hillsborough/Pasco county line.
District 7 Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, a New Tampa resident, called the county’s move to set aside funds to build the 60-foot-long connection “a game changer.”
However, on the Pasco County side, Dist. 2 County Commissioner Mike Moore, a Seven Oaks resident, told Cotey that “70-80-percent” of his constituents who have contacted him about him about the connector have been opposed to it.
I have become friends with Moore over the last few years, but after Cotey’s story came out in our last issue, I called Moore to explain to him my issue with what he said, as well as with anyone who opposes making this long-awaited, much-needed connection.
“You shouldn’t base whether or not to support the Kinnan-Mansfield connection on how many people contact you about it,” I told Moore on the phone. “You should base whether or not to support it on whether or not making the connection is a good idea for your county, for your constituents — and I know it is.”
Now, I’m not a transportation engineer, but in the nearly 24 years I have owned the Neighborhood News , I have attended literally hundreds of city, county and Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meetings and I still edit every word of every one of John’s transportation stories and provide insights to him about the history of most of these situations.
Although Kinnan St. is primarily located in the county, it jogs into Tampa’s city limits near the Pasco line, which means that all three governmental entities would have to come to an agreement in order to make the connection.
Moore says he is waiting until after Pasco’s traffic study of that area is completed — which is expected to happen later this month — before deciding which side to support. He says virtually no one is opposed to connecting Meadow Pointe Blvd. (about a mile-and-a-half to the east of Kinnan-Mansfield) to K-Bar Ranch Blvd. in New Tampa, but I don’t believe that connection would be close enough to Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. to provide any relief when the only current north-south connection between New Tampa and Wesley Chapel gets backed up — as it does all the time these days, while BBD is being widened between Regents Park Dr. in Pebble Creek and the county line.
The biggest argument the folks in Meadow Pointe II have against making the connection is that Mansfield Blvd. is only a two-lane road that serves four schools — Wiregrass Elementary, John Long Middle School, Wiregrass Ranch High and Pasco Hernando State College. They say that connecting Mansfield to Kinnan would bring additional traffic and increase the danger to students going to and from school.
Sorry, but I call B.S.
Long, the closest of the schools to the possible connection, is located one full mile north of the county line. Vehicles coming from the Cross Creek/Live Oak area would be able to turn right (east) onto Beardsley Dr. to access Meadow Pointe Blvd. and, ultimately, S.R. 54 heading towards Zephyrhills — within 0.3 mile from Kinnan St. Those same drivers also could turn left (west) onto County Line Rd. and hook back up with BBD at Aronwood Blvd. or County Line Rd. a half mile north of Kinnan.
It doesn’t make traffic flow sense that anyone from New Tampa would choose to drive north past four schools during school hours (when there are always crossing guards slowing you down), unless it was their only choice because of a traffic situation on BBD or they were planning to go to the Shops at Wiregrass or some other business on S.R. 56 east of BBD.
In other words, most of the traffic coming from New Tampa heading north would do so in the evenings and on weekends, when there are no students heading to and from school.
It reminds me of New Tampa’s long-time battle for an East-West Connector Road (E-W Rd.). I remember that the people who were screaming the loudest against it were those living along the planned route, in West Meadows and Tampa Palms Area 3. Those folks didn’t appreciate my unconditional support of that connector, even though that road still isn’t built today and seemingly never will be.
Today, many of those same anti-connector New Tampa residents don’t know how they could survive if the so-called Gateway Bridge — the first leg of the E-W Rd. — had never been built connecting West Meadows to Tampa Palms.
Likewise, I’m certain that it’s actually the people in Meadow Pointe II who will get the most benefit from the Kinnan-Mansfield connection. I also can’t believe that they would prefer to see it continue to be piled high with garbage (photo) than allow that tiny connection to become a reality.