WESLEY CHAPEL — A long-stalled connection between Mansfield Boulevard in Pasco County and Kinnan Street in Tampa is advancing again, with both government and private-sector representatives eager to make the missing link.
"We're very anxious to get that thing finished off. We like to get things done,'' said Brian Burns Sr., chairman of BFE Corp. of Palm Beach, parent company of the company that developed the original Meadow Pointe community.
"People in Meadow Pointe have to go a long way for groceries, gasoline or whatever,'' Burns said. "Finishing the road will relieve a great strain on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.''
It's a sentiment shared by Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore and Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione.
They cite numerous advantages — economic development, ease of transportation, improved quality of life from shorter commutes — that can result from linking Mansfield in Meadow Pointe to Kinnan, a two-lane divided street that serves the K-Bar Ranch, Pebble Creek and Live Oak Preserve communities. The most notable benefit, however, could be enhanced public safety.
Montelione, in a Jan. 22 email to Pasco commissioners, shared the story of K-Bar Ranch resident Otto Schloeter, who severely burned his arm while cooking lunch for his family last fall in his Paddock View Drive home. He waited nearly 45 minutes for emergency responders because the cell phone call for help got bounced among dispatchers in two counties and eventually resulted in a crew being dispatched from a Hillsborough County fire station in Thonotosassa, nearly 20 miles away.
"You can throw a rock from his back yard into Pasco, but he couldn't get help,'' said Montelione, who added that connecting Mansfield to Kinnan would allow the counties' mutual aid agreement to assist people in similar situations in the future.
Montelione, Moore, Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker and top staffers from the city and county are scheduled to meet March 9 in Dade City to try to remove the roadblocks that have kept the two streets at dead ends.
Drive the route today, and you're greeted by red- and white-striped fence barricades as you look south from Pasco County. An illegal dump of a sofa, love seat, smashed electronics and shattered glass sits on the Tampa side. It's only several paces of unfinished asphalt, but getting from one spot to the other involves 11.2 miles of driving along Mans- field, County Line Road, Bruce B. Downs and Cross Creek boulevards, and Kinnan.
It has been blocked since the northern portion of Kinnan opened in Tampa in 2007. Pasco County officials stymied a connection then, saying it wasn't in the best interests of the county's residential road network to accommodate increased traffic from Tampa. That parochial stance has meant no straight shot from the city limits to the extended State Road 56, the Porter campus of Pasco-Hernando State College or the site that had been targeted for development by Raymond James Financial.
A little more than three years ago, Pasco changed its position and offered a deal to the city of Tampa and K-Bar Ranch, asking one of those entities to pay for installing stop lights or traffic circles if the connected road brought a significantly higher number of vehicles into Meadow Pointe. That idea hit its own dead-end, and the connection remained incomplete.
Then, in a serendipitous moment, Moore called Montelione in January, at the same time she was preparing her email. They talked, it turned out, on the exact day an engineer retained by BFE Corp. met with Pasco County officials to discuss the idea of completing the segment.
"In the interest of public safety, this road needs to be completed,'' said David Fuxan of Fuxan Engineering Inc., who is designing the connection's engineering plans at the behest of Burns.
Moore, who was unaware of Burns' interest, brought the matter to the attention of his commission colleagues last month and received an immediate endorsement from commissioners Jack Mariano and Kathryn Starkey.
"I'm all about connectivity,'' said Starkey. "The more connections we can have, the better off we are.''
The renewed effort to connect Mansfield to Kinnan also comes as the state plans to build SR 56 eastward to Zephyrhills as a four-lane highway, which will make north-south connections like Mansfield, Meadow Pointe Boulevard and the planned Wyndfield Boulevard key to a functioning grid system in a growing area.
"We've got to do what's best for everybody,'' said Moore, "but it makes sense. It just makes sense.''