Grayson County Commissioners recently got a partial look at the likely path for a future toll road through Grayson County.
Commissioners got the update from Bill Benton, the head of the committee they appointed to handle the right-of-way acquisition for the project. The other members of that committee are Commissioner Phyllis James and Grayson County Judge Bill Magers.
Magers said the plan for the toll road in Grayson County is to extend U.S. Highway 380 to the Grayson County and Denton County line and then extend that road up to FM 121 in Grayson County. From FM 121, the road would continue until it meets up with U.S. Highway 75 in Denison.
Continuing the road from the county line to FM 121 will require the acquisition of 400 feet of right of way, which would become the access road once the tollway is completed.
“It will be a concrete county road,” Magers said.
On Tuesday, Magers said the right of way for that road would need to be donated to make it fiscally possible. Magers said the $8 million to build the road is going to come from two sources. The county expects to get $4 million from the Texas Department of Transportation and an additional $4 million is expected from the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Benton said the committee was able to work with landowners to get the rights of way donated and to make sure that the road didn’t go through property where it was not welcomed.
“As we met with all the landowners, it became apparent early on that there was a path,” Benton said as Magers laughed. “I won’t call it least resistance, but a path of less resistance.”
Benton said there were a couple of landowners who didn’t respond to requests for their opinions about the roadway and didn’t express any interest in the project.
“We were able to gerrymander the route just a little to avoid them so there wouldn’t be any necessity of taking their property for the purposes of the road,” he said.
That route, James said, affected five landowners. Benton said they the presented the alignment they were left with to the property owners who would be affected.
“We have received everybody’s memorandum of understanding back,” he said, adding that those are nonbinding memorandums but it indicates the landowners’ intent to donate their land. “As we continue through the process there are still more hurdles to follow.”
The next step, he said, will be a presentation of the route to the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority.
“If the RMA chooses to approve it, the project will go back to the engineers at TxDOT to begin working on it, drilling down and actually designing the roadway,” Benton said, noting that process could take between nine and 12 months.
Benton explained the county will then go back to the property owners who have indicated they would donate their property for the rights of way and get the final dedications.
“The reason this is so important that this is done now is that it is our understanding by the Dallas North Tollway, that we will have the access road at the Grayson County line sometime late 2019 (or) 2020,” Magers said. “So we must be ready to connect that access road and get it into Grayson County.”
Grayson County Commissioner Jeff Whitmire said the cost of building in a flood plane, or rather, trying to avoid building in the flood plane, was important. Magers agreed, saying the county didn’t have the money to incur any extraordinary costs with the roadway.
“It was threading a needle,” Magers said.
Whitmire said that is the reason that the road is a bit curvy.
James said the road will bring economic opportunity to the area in the future. She thanked Magers for finding money to pay for the access road without taking money out of the commissioners’ budgets. James said she had a hard time getting her head around the idea of spending taxpayer money on the road when she had roads in her precinct that needed those funds.