Project aims to improve emergency access

Construction is underway to make it easier for emergency services to get between New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.

The connection of Mansfield Boulevard and Kinnan Street will be barricaded as construction is set to begin in March. The corridor will be an easy access point for first responders traveling between Pasco and Hillsborough counties. (Brian Fernandes)

Mansfield Boulevard is in Wesley Chapel.

Kinnan Street is in New Tampa.

An improvement will connect the streets, but will be accessible only to first responders.

The Pasco County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) board approved the connection last June.

It was one of three corridor projects – all interlocking Wesley Chapel and Tampa, that the MPO passed.

The Mansfield-Kinnan connection was initially proposed as a public road for motorists.

The AECOM consulting firm took surveys in 2017 and 2018 to get public feedback about each project. Findings showed that the Mansfield-Kinnan connection was not popular among those responding to the survey.

This was due in part to concerns that an influx of traffic along Mansfield Boulevard could be hazardous to students.

Wiregrass Ranch High School, Dr. John Long Middle School and Wiregrass Elementary School are all located either on or just off that roadway.

As a result, the Mansfield-Kinnan connection proposal was changed to operate as an emergency-vehicle-only corridor.

Pasco County, Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa are all involved in the construction of the connection.

Mansfield Boulevard, in Wesley Chapel, has residencies and schools along its stretch. The roadway soon will become a corridor for emergency vehicles traveling to and from Tampa

The developer of Tampa’s K-Bar Ranch will initiate the paving of the connection, scheduled to begin mid-March.

Hillsborough County will then help with construction, such as striping the road and the installation of an emergency gate.

The gate will only grant cross-county access to emergency vehicles.

Only first responder equipment will open the gateway and Pasco County will oversee its operation.

The Pasco County Commission is expected to approve an agreement for the gate to be used only for emergency vehicles.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will have access, too.

The project calls for the sidewalks on both streets to connect.

Barricades will enclose the construction site.

Completion is expected in the summer.

Published March 18, 2020

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