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Street grid is key that opens neighborhoods

Published June 13, 2007


Pasco Commissioner Pat Mulieri admits she is not a fan of connecting neighborhoods. Her voting record certainly illustrates it. Over the year she agreed with neighbors' objecting to linking Longleaf to the neighborhoods to the west and five years ago she and a board majority approved the rezoning for Penners' Acres, a 300-house, 200-home development on the north side of State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes, without requiring a connection to the Twin Lakes neighborhood next door.

Mulieri proclaimed this stance again recently from the commission dais in touting the opening of a new grocery store on U.S. 41 at the western edge of Connerton. Then, she proceeded to compliment the staff on the benefits of connecting the commercial center's southern parking lot to the access road into the neighboring residential development called the Groves.

You're not alone if you're scratching your head over the convoluted logic. It's a common paradox. People want easy access and convenient transportation routes, as long as other motorists don't drive by their house to use them. Times staff writer Chuin-Wei Yap illustrated the phenomenon in his Lane Ranger column Sunday.

But Mulieri and her commission mates should be beyond the NIMBY thinking that saturates the protests when the county attempts to follow its policy requiring neighborhood streets to connect.

Linking neighborhoods is a basic element to improved traffic flow. The grid pattern helps keep local traffic off main thoroughfares and allows major arterial routes to serve their intended purposes. In central Pasco, for instance, residents of Oakstead must enter and exit onto State Road 54 because the Lake Patience Road connection at the north end of the property remains incomplete. However, when a planned rebuilding of Lake Patience and Bell Lake roads is finished, motorists will be able to drive from Oakstead to Collier Parkway without traveling on the state highway.

West Pasco has a blunt illustration of both planning models along U.S. 19. The neighborhoods on the east side of the road are connected by a grid system of residential streets, but the west side of the highway is dotted by numerous neighborhoods with single entrance and exit points, pushing slow-moving local traffic onto what should be a high-speed arterial.

The benefits of a grid system were touted again last week as consultants previewed for commissioners the long-term plan for the Pasadena Hills region of east Pasco. The 50-year map calls for a grid system linking 14 neighborhood centers across 10, 000 acres between San Antonio and State Road 54.

Commissioner Ted Schrader said initial public input was positive, including comments that property owners wished somebody had laid out a grid system for the area 50 years ago instead of in 2007. More important, current and future commissions will have to show a little backbone when the residents come objecting to a through street connecting their neighborhood to the one going in next door.

It's of little use to promote a street grid system if commissioners favor political expediency by disconnecting the connectivity when the opportunities arise.

[Last modified June 12, 2007, 21:30:55]

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