On the Pasco County side of the roadblocks, lively communities of people go about their lives, never having to worry about traffic from the south moving through their area. The lonely road once thought to be an appealing portal to Wesley Chapel sits barren and unused, a thin strip of undeveloped land hugging its shoulders.
A standoff between Hillsborough and Pasco counties is the only thing besides a few barricades and a small strip of land preventing improved traffic flow through the connection of Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe to Kinnan St. in K-Bar Ranch and Live Oak Preserve. The connection would offer commuters an alternative north-south route between New Tampa and Wesley Chapel to the nightmarish Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.
“I think Kinnan and Mansfield need to be connected,” says Jim Edwards, manager of the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization. “But there is no set schedule or specific timeline.”
Since the completion of the widening of S.R. 54 in Wesley Chapel in January, the Mansfield/Kinnan issue, which had been put on hold until that project’s completion, has re-emerged.
Edwards says that Pasco is looking at other alternatives and has expressed interest in doing so in the past, such as connecting Meadow Pointe Blvd., a road about 1.6 miles to the east of Mansfield, to a “reliever” road through K-Bar Ranch, the property south of the county line in Hillsborough County that Kinnan St. borders to the east.
Some of the K-Bar Ranch neighborhoods have maps of roads that have not yet been paved that connect Hillsborough and Pasco counties, but Edwards says that these are still merely “conceptualized” at this time and that there is no official timeline for constructing these connections.
Edwards also mentioned a four-six month “needs study” that will soon be conducted in Wesley Chapel by Tindale-Oliver & Associates, a Tampa-based engineering consulting firm, to determine what is needed to expand and fill the roadway grid system to the east of Meadow Pointe Blvd. all the way to Morris Bridge Rd.
“There is a lot of concern about road connections and what is adequate in terms of roadways and growth in that area,” says Edwards. “It is a ‘build-out land use scenario.’”
He explains that the study will reconfirm and revisit potential connections and traffic volume between the two counties. He adds that the study looks at the maximum population densities likely to be built in the area to get an idea of the actual impact the traffic will have. The study also will address many of the dead-end roads in the easternmost portions of Wesley Chapel to Morris Bridge Rd. It will also re-examine Mansfield and Kinnan.
“There are no immediate plans to connect (Mansfield Blvd. and Kinnan St.),” says Debra Bolduc of the Pasco County Engineering Services Administration. “There is nothing in the capital plan for it.”
The Mansfield Blvd./Kinnan St. connection project was never completed and has been on hold since 2007, leaving Kinnan St. a dead-end stretch of road used for little more than illegal trash dumping.
The developer of Live Oak Preserve in New Tampa spent $2.2 million to build the nearly 2,000-foot stretch of Kinnan St., extending it north to the county line, in hopes that the two roads would one day connect. The roads are separated by about 60 feet of brush and free-standing cement drainage pipes, barricades warning drivers of a closed road.
The connection has been met with opposition from the Meadow Pointe II Community Development District (CDD) Board of Supervisors, as well as residents living in the communities along Mansfield Blvd.
The close proximity of these communities to Dr. John Long Middle School and Wiregrass Ranch High already make traffic a problem for the communities and, they say, opening the connection to Hillsborough County through Kinnan St. would only make those problems worse.
In an April 2011 letter to the Pasco County Board of Commissioners, the Meadow Pointe II CCD Board offered their opinion of an alternative connection point for the two roads, stating that the “obvious resolution… would be to be to connect Kinnan St. to Meadow Pointe Blvd.,” a road built for higher traffic volume which connects north to both S.R. 54 and 56 from the Hillsborough line. — MW