Wesley Chapel road study looks for traffic solutions

Pasco County is moving forward with efforts to find consensus on easing traffic congestion in Wesley Chapel and building road connections between Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

About 100 people attended a public meeting to discuss the draft of the Wesley Chapel Road Connection Study.
(Kathy Steele)

Consensus appears elusive, however, on the proposed linkage between Mansfield Boulevard, in Pasco County and Kinnan Street in Hillsborough County.

Pasco residents don’t want more traffic whizzing down a boulevard that already is gridlocked at peak hours.

But Hillsborough residents want a more direct route to shops, restaurants, churches and jobs just across the county line.

About 100 people attended a public meeting on May 22 at Pasco-Hernando State College Porter Campus to discuss a 450-page draft of the Wesley Chapel Road Connection Study.

Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore and consultants with AECOM presented an executive summary of the study’s findings.

The study looks at the pros and cons of four alternatives for road connections, without making a recommendation. A no-build option also is included.

“We don’t have any bias in this study,” said Ali Atefi, a transportation engineer with the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization. “We looked at it objectively.”

The choices are no-build; linking Mansfield Boulevard with Kinnan Street; linking Mansfield and Kinnan, as well as extending Meadow Pointe Boulevard to Hillsborough County; and the final option calls for linking Mansfield and Kinnan, extending Meadow Pointe Boulevard and extending Wyndfields, also to Hillsborough County.

Moore said he favors the Meadow Pointe extension, which would link to a future road in K-Bar Ranch.

A count of residents’ preferences from a 2017 public meeting showed that road project had strong support.

“I’ve got to be concerned about my residents here in Pasco County,” Moore said.

Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, who attended the May 22 meeting, said all three connections are necessary. His constituents in New Tampa especially want Mansfield and Kinnan connected.

“I understand it’s not a black and white issue,” Viera said. “It’s gray. But, that is a real potential game changer. Hillsborough County is a stakeholder in this.”

Hillsborough County commissioners in 2017 approved $250,000 toward linking the two roads.

There could be one point of agreement on Mansfield and Kinnan, which currently dead-end at the county line — roughly 30 feet to 40 feet apart.

A gate could be installed that would provide access to emergency vehicles only. The cost would be about $7,000 for each county.

But, the Mansfield and Kinnan connection remains a hard sell for many Pasco residents.

“Adding traffic is what I’m worried about now,” said Ray Kobasko.

The Meadow Pointe extension makes more sense, he said. “It’s been planned all along, All the people who bought over there were told that,” he said.

Mike Hanna also opposes a Mansfield-Kinnan link.

“Connections have to be made but not all three of these,” he said. “A lot of people drive Mansfield every day and have accidents now. I’d not be in favor of more traffic coming up there.”

Residents can comment on the study through June 15. A final study will be released in August or September.

A citizens’ survey also is planned in coming months, giving residents a chance to weigh in on potential projects. The MPO is scheduled to make its recommendation in October.

Pasco County commissioners will have the final say on which, if any, of the alternatives are selected for construction.

Published June 6, 2018

 

 

 

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