Only a barricade and a short unpaved stretch of land separate Mansfield Boulevard in Pasco County from its sister road, Kinnan Street in New Tampa.
That roadblock could soon be gone, creating a straight shot to State Road 56 for Hillsborough County residents and an alternative route to retail destinations such as the Shops at Wiregrass. But the connection faces fierce opposition from Meadow Pointe homeowners who fear a deluge of traffic from the south.
"The primary concern is opening it up and putting more cars on a two-lane road that can't handle it," said Mark Glassman, a former member of the Meadow Pointe II Community Development District.
Pasco officials stress that the connection isn't a done deal — yet. David Goldstein, the chief assistant county attorney, forwarded a series of proposed requirements this week to the city of Tampa and K-Bar Ranch, a development just south of the county line. That development is nearing the maximum number of homes it can build until the two roads are connected. If the roads are eventually connected, K-Bar would be able to build more homes in the development.
Goldstein said Pasco wants Tampa or the developer to pay for lights or traffic circles at two key intersections if the connection brings a marked increase in traffic. Those "traffic calming" improvements could cost up to $500,000.
The proposal also would pave the way for a road network between Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Morris Bridge Road, eventually hitting U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills.
"It's about creating a grid all the way from Bruce B. Downs to U.S. 301," said Richard Gehring, Pasco's chief planning official. "It's not just one road."
Goldstein's proposal must still be approved by the city of Tampa and K-Bar Ranch. The plan includes setting aside land to extend Beardsley Drive east to Morris Bridge; a requirement to extend Meadow Pointe Boulevard south within four years; and setting aside land for a proposed third north-south road, Wyndfield Boulevard.
If K-Bar doesn't build the Meadow Pointe extension and a separate east-west connector by the four-year deadline, Pasco could build the road itself and earn transportation impact fee credits from Hillsborough.
"We want to ensure that all the traffic doesn't just use Mansfield," Goldstein said. "We want to ensure that there's other north-south roads."
Glassman scoffed at the future road network, saying it's a promise that could easily be broken.
"How many years is that going to be until it's done?" he said. "They're politicians. They're going to tell me anything they want to shut me up."
He suggested rerouting Kinnan east for about a mile and then connecting it to Meadow Pointe Boulevard, which has enough adjacent land to expand to four lanes.
Goldstein said there is "enough momentum" among Pasco commissioners to remove the Mansfield roadblock if the county's conditions are met.
But he stressed that the road wouldn't open until Pasco reached an agreement with Tampa and K-Bar Ranch. Messages left Friday with assistant city attorney Julia Mandell and K-Bar's primary developer, Mobley Homes, were not returned.
Lee Logan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6236.