Friday, January 19, 2007

The Road To Nowhere

The two-lane road meanders for about a mile through open land primed for development. In the distance, houses with fresh paint and new sod peek out from behind transplanted trees. The road was built so residents in bustling New Tampa could get from Hillsborough to Pasco County without having to take traffic-clogged Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. But at the end of the road, named Kinnan Street, sit barricades and weeds. Sixty feet away, across the county line, is another road, which was supposed to connect and complete the path to Pasco. But the two roads might never meet, leaving the street a worthless $2.2-million road to nowhere. Hillsborough officials say Pasco had promised to connect the two roads. But Pasco now says it doesn't want the extra traffic from New Tampa on already battered streets.Because of crossed signals between the two counties, the road may never be used to its full potential. "We did our job," said Bob Campbell, Hillsborough's director of transportation and land development review. "(Pasco) indicated to us they'd make it connect at the appropriate time." Pasco County officials now say there might never be a right time. "We cannot consider (joining the roads)," said Bipin Parikh, assistant Pasco County administrator. He said he needs to look out for the residents and streets of Meadow Pointe, to the north of the road with traffic problems of its own. Parikh said if the connection is made between Kinnan Street and Meadow Pointe's Mansfield Boulevard, motorists from New Tampa would then head west on County Line Road. That is essentially the only convenient way in and out for Meadow Pointe's roughly 7,000 families and already is so well-used it needs resurfacing, he said. "Everyone is familiar with Cross Creek Boulevard and the traffic nightmare on that road," he said. "I do not want County Line Road to become a Cross Creek." But some New Tampa residents aren't happy, saying traffic flows both ways. "We all live together and work together," said Joyce Clayton, of Cross Creek. "Everyone has traffic issues, no matter which county we live in." There's nothing Hillsborough can do about Pasco's position, Campbell said, and even if there was, he's not sure the county would take any action. Instead, he points to Hillsborough's efforts to make traffic flow better for motorists from both counties. "We are getting ready to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to widen Bruce B. Downs to eight lanes, and a good portion of traffic on that road is coming in and out of Pasco County," Campbell said.