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Land allows road's completion

After months of delays, a national home builder has turned over the final piece of property needed to finish a major connector road in New Tampa.

U.S. Home Corp., the builder of Heritage Isles, submitted the deed Friday that gives the go-ahead to complete the final quarter-mile of Cross Creek Boulevard to Morris Bridge Road.

"Obviously, it's good news. We now own the property," said Shawn Harrison, who represents New Tampa on the City Council and lives in Tampa Palms. "I would hope in the next three months we'll be moving dirt out there."

The extension will be welcomed by residents of New Tampa. It's expected to free up traffic on Bruce B. Downs, at present the only main road in and out of the growing area, and also provide an alternative route down Morris Bridge Road to Interstate 75.

Terms of the land transfer, including what the city paid the developer for the property, were not available Friday.

City of Tampa transportation officials have been working with developers for years on the extension, and had hoped for it to be complete by summer. Now, December appears more realistic.

"I think if all goes well, by year end we will be driving on it," Harrison said. "That's optimistic, but trust me, everyone in the city understands the importance of getting that road off as quickly as possible."

City officials said they had been requesting the final link from U.S. Home since February, but the developer balked at requests for some time.

In the meantime, U.S. Home was involved in a legal dispute with the previous landowner. An attorney advised them to defer any action until the lawsuit was resolved, according to a letter in city files.

But after meeting with city officials this week, the developer chose to transfer to the city the estimated 7 to 9 acres needed for the road.

Another developer, Star 107 Development Inc., is expected to finish the road in the coming months in order to start construction on a commercial center planned for the intersection of Cross Creek Boulevard and Morris Bridge Road.

_ Staff writer Susan Thurston contributed to this story. Michael Sandler can be reached at (813) 226-3472 or