County looks at road options
WESLEY CHAPEL - With thousands of new homes slated for the Wesley Chapel area, the county needs to start planning now for new roads that could connect Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to U.S. 301, a consultant said last week. The county already plans to extend State Road 56 and Chancey Boulevard further east, but transportation consultant Bill Oliver told members of the county's Development Review Committee last week those two roads alone won't create enough of a network to serve the county's future traffic needs. Oliver said the county should begin considering prospective routes to extend Oldwoods Avenue and Meadow Pointe's Beardsley Drive east to U.S. 301. "The point of our study was to determine whether or not these two corridors were really needed and how many lanes they should be," Oliver said. "It's not to choose the alignment."Oliver said building Beardsley as a four-lane road, along with a two-lane Oldwoods, would create the most effective network for the area. That's because Beardsley, which connects to County Line Road, can provide a complete corridor all the way from Morris Bridge Road to Bruce B. Downs Blvd and continue across Interstate 75 to provide alternate access to Cypress Creek Town Center. Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein said the best route for the Beardsley extension may be south of the county line, in Tampa's K-Bar Ranch development. "We think the most logical alignment for this road is through the city of Tampa," Goldstein said. "We've made a condition — before we open the connection at Kinnan — the city has to provide for the right-of-way for Beardsley." The opening of New Tampa's Kinnan Street connection to Meadow Point's Mansfield Avenue has been a point of contention for six years. The two roads were designed to connect, giving motorists on both sides of the county line an alternative to driving on Bruce B. Downs. But Pasco has refused to allow the connection until now, and only if Tampa and the developers of K-Bar meet the county's demands. Goldstein outlined a list of conditions, including right-of-way for Beardsley, after officials from both jurisdictions met in November. Another condition is that the city or developer pays for road improvements on Mansfield, since the bulk of the traffic will be moving north into Pasco County. Julia Mandel, assistant city attorney for Tampa, said she met recently with representatives for MI Homes, which recently acquired the development rights for K-Bar. She said she is preparing a response to Pasco's conditions. "So what happens if the Hillsborough-Beardsley route doesn't come to pass?" Pasco County Administrator John Gallagher asked. "What happens then? Say they're interested or the developer's not interested?" Goldstein said Pasco County could condemn property in another jurisdiction and build the road. The developer has a strong incentive to cooperate. K-Bar is approved for 1,199 homes, but after the road connection is made with Pasco, the density may increase to 1,599. So far, the development has nearly 1,000 finished lots.
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