Pasco MPO board approves new Wesley Chapel connections

Wesley Chapel motorists would have more options, under connections approved by the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization board on June 11.

The first new connection calls for extending Wesley Chapel’s Meadow Pointe Boulevard, into Tampa.

The second new connection calls for extending the planned Wyndfields Boulevard, which would run from State Road 56 to K-Bar Ranch Boulevard, in Tampa.

Meadow Pointe Boulevard in Wesley Chapel, may soon see an influx of traffic if extended into neighboring Hillsborough County to the south. On June 11, the Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization board approved a proposal to lengthen both Meadow Pointe and Wyndfields boulevards cross county into Tampa. (Brian Fernandes)

The third new connection would link Mansfield Boulevard to Kinnan Street, but would only be used for emergency purposes and bicycle-pedestrian paths.

“We did a survey to try to gauge public input on the connections,” said Megan McKinney of the AECOM organization. “Today the goal is to get you all (MPO board) to make a recommendation on the connections to take forward to the (Pasco) Board of County Commissioners.”

AECOM had distributed surveys to Pasco residents to complete throughout last April and get feedback on the connection proposals.

The survey asked for the residents’ stance on four project options:

  • Mansfield Boulevard-Kinnan Street connection and Meadow Pointe Boulevard extension
  • Meadow Pointe Boulevard extension only
  • Meadow Pointe Boulevard and Wyndfields Boulevard extensions
  • Mansfield Boulevard-Kinnan Street connection, plus extensions for Meadow Pointe Boulevard and Wyndfields Boulevard

Bar graphs depicting the four options, showed overwhelming support for the two extension projects, while only a slight majority of those taking the survey favored the connection between Mansfield Boulevard and Kinnan.

McKinney also presented a map with dots along the three projects, representing residents living in the region.

The blue dots represented residents who approved of the proposed projects; the red dots represented residents who were opposed.

Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, who sits on the board, was quick to point out the primary areas of resistance.

“If you look along Mansfield Boulevard, you’ll see the majority is in red,” Moore said. “So the majority of residents that live right along Mansfield Boulevard said they prefer not to have that connection.”

He said the residents’ concerns are warranted because Mansfield Boulevard cannot be widened to accommodate an influx in traffic.

Moore said there’s also concern about adding traffic to a street that has multiple schools, a recreational center and a day care.

Pasco County Commission Chairman Ron Oakley, who also sits on the MPO board, added: “They’re the people that actually live in that area and see that traffic each and every day. I don’t necessarily think they should have that added traffic – and most of it from another county.”

Wesley Chapel resident Brad Jorgensen echoed the commissioners’ opposition as he took to the podium during the public hearing.

“I’m one of those red dots that was firmly planted on Mansfield (Boulevard),” Jorgensen said.

He came as a concerned father because his two sons ride their bikes to school and visit their friends along the stretch of road.

“This is about the safety of our kids in this neighborhood,” the father stated. “This is about not turning our neighborhood into alternative Bruce B. Downs (Boulevard).”

Others expressed the same sentiments, but there were others who had a different point of view.

“The Kinnan Street-Mansfield (Boulevard) connection is in the interest of the public good,” said Jim Davison, an emergency room physician.

He is also the founder of the New Tampa Transportation Task Force which takes a vested interest in resolving roadway obstacles.

According to Davison, the connection would decrease traffic along State Road 56 from Interstate 75 to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

“It takes off 5 (percent) to 10 percent of all the traffic on major roads in Pasco County – east of I-75 and south of (State Road) 54,” he claimed.

He also noted that most people come to hospitals by way of private vehicles, not ambulances, so limiting the roadway to only emergency vehicles would be ineffective.

Ultimately, the board passed the option extending Meadow Pointe and Wyndfields boulevards into Tampa, allowing full-vehicular access. They also approved extending Mansfield to Kinnan, limiting access to emergency vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.

Published June 26, 2019

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