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4-WAY STOP AT FORUM IN PLANS

A developer's office project may soon change a three-way intersection.

The city of Tampa has plans to create a new four-way intersection near the St. Pete Times Forum in downtown's Channel District.

Although the project has been discussed for years, it may be speeded up by a developer's plans to build a new 20-story office building nearby.

Currently, Cumberland Avenue west of Meridian Avenue dead-ends in a grassy parking lot between the St. Pete Times Forum and the ConAgra flour mill. However, Cumberland continues on the east side of Meridian and runs beneath the Channelside parking garage.

The city's plan would punch Cumberland through to Meridian on the west side, creating a four-way intersection where there's a three-way intersection now.

Monday afternoon, the city entered into an agreement with the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority for access to a sliver of land that the authority controls at Cumberland's dead end.

The city hurried to get on the Expressway Authority's agenda Monday after it got a rezoning proposal last week for a new office tower near this site, at the northwest corner of Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive.

The city didn't tell the Expressway Authority when it plans to extend the street. City transportation officials couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Extending Cumberland Drive would improve the street grid in the area, said Marty Stone, the Expressway Authority's planning director.

"It's been discussed for at least six or seven years. It's always been a great idea, but the city has never had the commitment to do it," Stone said.

In other business Monday, the Expressway Authority formally hired its new executive director, Joseph L. Waggoner Jr., agreeing to pay him $175,000 a year plus a $500 monthly car allowance.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or brassfield@sptimes.com.

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