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Expressway's opponents speak up

The consultants can take hours. The elected officials can take days. But if you are a regular resident who wants to discuss a major issue facing local government, you better hurry up. You get three minutes to state your case.

Until Monday.

In an unusual step, the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority agreed a Brandon group could have more than the usual three minutes to argue against extending the Crosstown Expressway through Brandon.

The authority voted to let Jack Kitko, representing the Brandon Crosstown Action Committee, give a 30-minute presentation on his opposition to extending the toll road when the authority meets in November.

At first, the authority declined his request, but Kitko protested.

"We are addressing an issue that will mean a $6-million expenditure to the taxpayers over the next few years," argued Kitko, a regular and vocal participant at authority meetings. "I don't think it's unreasonable to ask for 30 minutes of your time."

After discussion, the authority agreed to give Kitko his half-hour, as long as the presentation contained new material.

"I am one of the ones sympathetic to some of your issues," authority member David H. McClain told Kitko. "But how many times are you going to come up here with the same stuff? I don't want to hear the same old stuff rehashed during your presentation."

Kitko promised the November presentation would contain new information.

His arguments before the authority Monday recapped his group's position against the toll road's extension through Brandon. Using hand-written flip charts as illustration, he said the authority should study widening the Crosstown Expressway before they decide to build the extension.

Kitko said the projected number of residents in 2010 _ about 157,600 residents in the Brandon area _ did not justify building an extension.

"The question here is, will there be enough . . . traffic to feed into the Crosstown?" Kitko said.

David Twiddy, a planner with the Florida Department of Transportation, said the extension will handle cars from the entire Interstate 75 corridor and southeast Hillsborough County _ not just Brandon. He said recent figures show the extension will have to handle 120,000 cars daily in 2010.

"You can't just count Brandon," he said. He also noted there was "no relationship between population and trips."

The authority is studying several routes for the extension through Brandon, including one that would bisect the community along State Road 60 or another along Lumsden Road.