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New Tampa connector idea is back

NEW TAMPA— An east-west highway through New Tampa, dismissed as unfeasible several months ago, is getting another look.

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise is weeks from reporting to city transportation officials about the possibility of a toll road that would connect Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to Interstate 275.

The last such study, in 2005, concluded that tolls could pay for construction, but not maintenance of the 3-mile connector, said turnpike spokeswoman Joanne Hurley.

"In late July, the city contacted the turnpike and asked if we would take a fresh look," Hurley said. "They asked us to see if anything had changed."

In May, Mayor Pam Iorio said the road did not seem viable. The following month the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority echoed that opinion and pulled out of the project.

But the road remains an option as transportation officials contend with ever-thickening traffic on Bruce B. Downs.

In a letter to homeowner Warren Dixon, city public works administrator Stephen Daignault wrote at length about New Tampa's need for alternate roads.

"We must consider all possibilities and alternatives with a possible long-term solution that may include a combination of the East-West Collector, roadway grid system and transit," he wrote.

"The East-West Collector is an option which provides relief to some of the traffic issues in New Tampa. To that end, the city has obtained right of way and is exploring financial options with outside transportation agencies."

Dixon and others in Tampa Palms oppose plans to build a bridge from New Tampa Boulevard to Commerce Park Boulevard, which leads to Tampa Palms Boulevard, passing several schools and parks.

The bridge was to be part of the toll road project. Without the toll road, Dixon says, the bridge will dump too much traffic into the heart of Tampa Palms.

Daignault promised that if the bridge is built, the city "will work to ensure that Tampa Palms Boulevard remains protected from unacceptable levels of service."

Randy Marlowe, a supervisor for the Tampa Palms community development district, said that "at the minimum, there should be no trucks allowed on Tampa Palms Boulevard."

Added community development district consultant Maggie Wilson, "I look forward to working with the city to minimize the detrimental effects."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at 269-5307 or sokol@sptimes.com.

New Tampa connector idea is back 10/18/08 [Last modified: Friday, November 7, 2008 4:46pm]
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