When the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization completed its long-range plan in 2014, officials estimated that the region could see about $97 million in improvements over the next 25 years. Less than two years later, officials now estimate the region could see nearly the same level of funding in as little as 10 years.
Last week, the Texas Transportation Commission, the overseeing body for the Texas Department of Transportation, approved $70 billion in spending for Texas roadway projects as a part of its 2017 Unified Transportation Plan. In rural areas, these projects will include improved connectivity for major interstates with local roadways, TxDOT said in a press release issued Thursday.
With the UTP approved by the commission, the region is expected to receive at least $93 million in funding for local roadway projects over the next decade, SDMPO Director Karl Welzenbach said Tuesday.
“If we assume this funding is continued in the future, this region will see significant funding in coming years,” he said.
Earlier this summer, the SDMPO finished work on its future Transportation Improvement Program, which will oversee update projects through the year 2020. At its passing, Welzenbach said it would likely need to be amended as additional funding was made available.
The updated numbers for funding include funds authorized by the federal government along with funds authorized by Proposition 1 in 2014 and Proposition 7 in 2015. Proposition 1 allocated a portion of the Texas oil and gas sales tax that would go into the rainy day fund for roadway improvement projects. Proposition 7 allocated funds from sales, use, motor vehicle sales and rental tax venue to the state highway fund.
With the UTP now in place, Welzenbach is recommending that five additional projects totaling more than $14 million be added to the four-year plan. This will include three projects in Denison along the FM 691 corridor, the widening of FM 1417 and a bridge replacement at Sand Creek, and drainage improvements to State Highway 289 in Pottsboro. These amendments are scheduled to be adopted in November.
The projects will include work to add two lanes to FM 691 from U.S. Highway 75 to Loy Lake Road with an estimated cost of $4.2 million. The roadway will also be widened from U.S. Highway 91 to Theresa Road for $4.56 million. And the final project will involve the reconstruction of FM 131 from FM 691 to Seymore Bradley for $5.03 million.
This increase in roadway capacity will take place along expected development near Texoma Medical Center and its extended medical community, and an expected growth on the west side of the highway in the Gateway Village development, Denison City Manager Jud Rex said.
“Making these improvements is going to help accelerate new growth in the area,” Rex said.
Sherman will see an expansion of already planned projects and improvements on FM 1417. A project to widen the roadway to four lanes from Taylor Street to U.S. Highway 82 was previously approved for the plan. The amendment would add a widening and bridge rebuild at Sand Creek, Sherman Public Works Director Clay Barnett said.
This project is a part of the city’s ongoing goal to widen the entire corridor, Barnett said.
Pottsboro will see about $150,000 in water drainage improvements to State Highway 289 near Fountain Creek under the amendments. Pottsboro City Manager Kevin Farley said this will help alleviate water backups that often extend into Texoma Ranch Estates and cover the state highway.
“The idea behind this project is to install a third culvert under 289 to move water east quicker,” he said. “This is important for us as this becomes an issue any time we have a major rain event.”
Welzenbach said there was some confusion on whether these amendments could be added to the four year plan, or if the SDMPO would need to wait until 2017 for the Texas legislature to move forward. After discussing it with state and TxDOT officials, Welzenbach said the amendments are ready to move forward.
“The critical issue with the federal government was if the projections in the UTP were real enough for MPOs to use,” he said.
In addition to the funds provided to the SDMPO, the region will also see improvements through the Paris TxDOT district. Under the UTP, Grayson County is expected to see work on 45 projects over the next two years, TxDOT Paris District Public Information Officer Tim McAlavy said Tuesday. Some of these projects may overlap with SDMPO projects, he added.
These projects will be put forward to bid as funding is made available through TxDOT and its funding sources, McAlavy said. Among the projects included in the UTP are several related to improvements to U.S. Highway 75. McAlavy said these are unrelated to the ongoing work to draft a master plan for the highway, which is expected to be included in future UTPs as the project progresses through planning and development.