Small piece of roadway makes big difference
By JOHN BALZ, Times Staff Writer
HERITAGE ISLES -- The final three-tenths of a mile of Cross Creek Boulevard opened Tuesday morning and it couldn't have come soon enough for New Tampa residents.
The new ribbon of asphalt connects Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Morris Bridge Road. City officials and residents expect it to go a long way toward relieving traffic congestion along Bruce B. Downs.
"This is a good day for New Tampa," said City Council member Shawn Harrison. "This is a tiny stretch of blacktop that is going to make a world of difference."
Kearny Development completed the project in two and a half months. The developer received $1.-million in transportation impact fee credits from the city for the right-of-way and the construction performed.
Four City Council members and Mayor Dick Greco attended Tuesday's ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"A road out here is a celebration," said Greco, standing in front of two yellow front-loader trucks.
Following his speech, Greco, City Council members, other city officials and reporters broke in the new road on an air-conditioned trolley car that had been converted into a bus. A caravan of cars and sport utility vehicles followed.
The finished road means that drivers from Heritage Isles, Cory Lake Isles, Cross Creek and Arbor Greene can avoid Bruce B. Downs when leaving New Tampa.
Morris Bridge Road is not the widest or the smoothest road in New Tampa, but the commuting option is helpful, said Don Nevins, president of the New Tampa Transportation Task Force.
"This is a small step but it's a step in the right direction," he said.
Currently, a stop sign meets drivers at the end of Cross Creek Boulevard. The city plans to put a traffic signal there once it can find the money, Harrison said.
A widening of Cross Creek Boulevard is scheduled to begin early next year.
Ron Rotella, special consultant to the mayor, said that all but one of New Tampa's remaining transportation projects are fully funded.
Transportation planners are likely to turn a portion of the east-west connector from Commerce Park Boulevard to Interstate 275 into a toll road to pay for $14-million to $16-million in construction costs, he said.
-- John Balz can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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