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Meeting set to support new I-275 interchange

Opponents of a proposed east-west road connecting Bruce B. Downs Boulevard to Interstate 275 _ though divided into contrary factions _ have been organized and vocal.

Now, the road's proponents are hoping to match their volume.

The New Tampa Community Council has organized a task force to support building the road, and members discussed plans this week to promote that agenda.

A task force member will attend the Taste of New Tampa Saturday at Arbor Greene, manning a booth where supporters can sign a petition imploring government officials to continue development of the road.

Also, a "town hall" meeting of the New Tampa Community Council is scheduled for May 26 at 7 p.m. at the New Tampa Regional Library on Cross Creek Boulevard in Hunter's Green.

The task force hopes the meeting will attract residents from throughout New Tampa, not just Community Council members, so more residents get a broader understanding of why proponents believe the road is necessary.

Task force member Carol Poland said the following people plan to attend: Tampa City Council member Scott Paine; Julie Harris, the neighborhood liaison to Mayor Dick Greco; mayoral assistant Ron Rotella and Elton Smith, city transportation chief.

Expected but not confirmed, Poland said, is Lucie Ayer, director of MPO, the area's main transportation planner. Greco cannot attend because he is on vacation that week, she said.

Task force chairman Frank Margarella acknowledged that road opponents also probably will attend the meeting, and that he had no problem with that.

"The purpose of the meeting for us is to show our residents and to explain why we need it, and if people want to rebut that, that's fine," said Margarella, who said he believes some opponents simply need more information.

"There are people in New Tampa that feel like, "I don't have a problem getting to I-275,' or are environmentally concerned," he said. "And if they haven't gone to the volume of meetings that we've gone to, they have suggestions like, County Line Road, (which passes) right over 275, (can't they) just put an interchange on that?

Margarella said that was one of the first options considered, but it was ruled out because land was not available for an interchange. "But a lot of people don't know that," he said.

Road proponents face opposition from several camps. Some are concerned about the environmentally sensitive land near one proposed route. Others wonder about traffic if the road connects, as planned, to Tampa Palms Boulevard. People in Lutz worry that once built, the road might be stretched all the way to Livingston Avenue.

Some opponents of the plan acknowledge that New Tampa does need an exit from I-275, but would prefer one farther north. That would avoid the Cypress Creek Preserve and lessen the chance of extending the east-west connector into Lutz.

_ If you have a story about New Tampa, call 226-3464 or 226-3376.