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Brandon

Residents quizzed on bypass and more

Planners at a Countywide Corridor Plan meeting ask for opinions on 40 potential transportation projects.

By JAY CRIDLIN
Published October 3, 2003

A highway connecting Interstate 75 and Interstate 4 that wraps around east Brandon has been on Hillsborough County's drawing board, in one form or another, for more than 15 years.

Now, planners are talking about putting the plan in motion.

The so-called Brandon Bypass was publicly revisited Tuesday at a Countywide Corridor Plan meeting at the Brandon Community Center.

Such a road would run from I-75 near Apollo Beach to I-4 east of Brandon, cutting down on traffic on I-75 and I-4, as well as State Road 60.

"It's pretty significant," said Ned Baier, a project manager with the Corridor Plan. "We're not advocating that road, but we are looking at the demand and if it would work, from a long-range planning perspective."

The Corridor Plan is a long-range transportation project initiated by the county's Metropolitan Planning Organization to determine areas where new or expanded roads would be needed by 2025, thus cutting down on the county's right of way acquisition costs.

So far, the county's only public meetings regarding the Corridor Plan were held in April in Northwest Hillsborough County. Tuesday's presentation in Brandon incorporated input from that meeting.

"The fact is, most of the roads in Brandon will need to be widened at some point given the current growth projections," Baier said.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization has named more than 25 eastern Hillsborough County projects to be funded by 2025, such as widening U.S. 301 from State Road 674 to Gibsonton Drive and widening Boyette Road between U.S. 301 and Bell Shoals Road.

At Tuesday's meeting, planners also asked the nearly 100 residents in attendance for their opinions on 40 projects that have not yet been planned, but may someday be needed.

One of those projects was the Brandon Bypass. Donald Ducharme of Durant brought a newspaper clipping from 1988 that indicated such a project might already be completed by 2010. Now, he's not sure he sees the need for it.

"You don't have to go through Brandon anyway, because I-75 goes up to I-4," he said.

Several residents voiced their disapproval of a planned widening of Lumsden Road from Kings Avenue to Valrico Road.

Hildegarde Peek, who has lived on Lumsden for 45 years, said she realizes growth has necessitated road expansions.

"It's going to get worse, we all know that," she said. "But you need to also give people here some answers for today and tomorrow."

Another Corridor Plan meeting will be held in Brandon the week of Nov. 17. More information about the plan is available at www.hillsboroughmpo.org or www.hillsboroughcounty.org/pgm/corridorplan

- Jay Cridlin can be reached at 661-2442 or cridlin@sptimes.com

[Last modified October 2, 2003, 11:55:16]

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