It was open.
Now it isn’t.
However, it will be open again. Really.
That’s basically where the Meadow Pointe Blvd. connection to K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. saga stands at the moment, after a few weeks of confusion for Wesley Chapel and New Tampa residents.
The long-awaited connector is currently closed. According to Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, who represents the New Tampa area, the roadway is “technically private property until the Tampa City Council approves the plat later in July 2022.”
Following that approval, the roadway will have to pass an inspection by Pasco County, which will then officially approve it. The City of Tampa has already inspected the connector.
Until all of that red tape has been completed, developer M/I Homes will retain ownership of the roadway and the barricades will stay up.
Viera was under the impression that the connector was completed when he noticed that the barriers had been removed and contacted the Neighborhood News on May 30.
A few weeks after driving the road a few times and posting a story online about the connection finally being made, the Neighborhood News received more than a dozen inquiries via email and social media asking why it was suddenly closed again.
After a number of social media conspiracy theories were floated, Viera says he was told by City of Tampa staff that the connector was only meant to be open to provide utility access to fully complete the work, as well as removing old signs like the dead-end sign on Meadow Pointe Blvd.
However, the thirst for a connection heading north from New Tampa to Wesley Chapel was bound to attract K-Bar Ranch residents, who have been clamoring for years for additional points of egress. Currently, the only way out of the western end of K-Bar Ranch is via Kinnan St., or by driving through busy neighborhoods and past Pride Elementary on Bassett Creek Dr.
“This was absolutely important,” said Cindy Gustavel, a K-Bar Ranch resident since 2015. “I think some people saw this as a way to get to malls and restaurants, but most of us just saw it as a way to make living here safer.”
The City of Tampa will organize a formal opening ceremony when the roadway has been completed, likely later this month or in early August.
That keeps with the original schedule that City of Tampa chief traffic management engineer and head of the Smart Mobility Division Vik Bhide laid out in March. Bhide said then that the roadway would officially open in July.
The Meadow Pointe Blvd. connector is one of four connection points originally planned on K-Bar Ranch Pkwy. for the K-Bar Ranch community. The first, where Kinnan St. meets Mansfield Blvd. in Meadow Pointe II, was denied by Pasco County and continues to only be open to emergency rescue vehicle and police traffic. Meadow Pointe Blvd. is the second, and the other two — at Wyndfields Blvd and Morris Bridge Rd. — are at least two years away, according to Bhide.
So, while a new connection is something to be happy about, many K-Bar Ranch residents still strongly believe the Kinnan-Mansfield connection should still be opened to vehicular traffic as well.
“There’s a huge appetite for that,” says Gustavel, who serves on her neighborhood’s HOA board as well as on the K-Bar Ranch CDD board. “I don’t think that will ever go away.”