Sherman is beginning work to reverse the northbound U.S. Highway 75 entrance and exit ramps immediately south of FM 1417.

The Sherman City Council unanimously approved the execution of a professional services agreement with H.W. Lochner Inc. for engineering design work for the reversal of the two ramps. Lochner is the same engineering company that is working on plans to widen FM 1417. The agreement calls for Sherman to Lochner $162,245.60 for the engineering services, with funding to come from the Sherman Economic Development Corp. and certificates of obligation the city plans to issue in 2018.

“It’s similar to what we’ve done on southbound (Hwy.) 75 for the ramp reversals,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “Both SEDCO and the city will share in the funding of this project. And TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) will manage the construction.”

With commercial developments planned for the northwest and southeast corners of the intersection of Hwy. 75 and FM 1417, city staff said the current design of the entrance and exit ramps would be an impediment to the success of those developments. The current northbound ramps also do not meet current Texas Department of Transportation standards.

“The design still has to be done, but the theory is it’s going to look like the southbound lane looks,” City Manager Robby Hefton said. “It’s an X configuration, with that extra lane to get either off or on. It should mirror the southbound side there south of (FM) 1417.”

Last month, Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille announced plans to open an entertainment complex as part of a planned full development of the 22-acre tract of land on the southeast corner of Hwy. 75 and FM 1417. The Schulman’s facility is expected to encompass 63,189 square feet and will feature multiple bowling lanes, eight movie screens offering dine-in viewing, various gaming choices and dining options through a Billy’s Grille and Bar. The rest of the first phase of the development is expected to include spaces for three restaurant or retail locations and a spot for a convenience store along the Highway 75 service road. The second phase of the development will add a hotel and conference center to the east of the Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille.

Sherman Crossroads Ltd. is planning a mixed-use development of commercial and retail offerings it expects will complement the Emergency Center of North Texas free-standing emergency department currently being constructed on the northwest corner of the Hwy. 75-FM 1417 intersection. City staff said the development is expected to increase the property tax base by $30 million to $50 million during its lifetime, and significantly expand the city’s sales tax base.

The approved contract calls for Lochner to provide designs that will increase the flow of traffic near along the northbound Hwy. 75 service road and meet state requirements. The current exit ramp on the northbound side of Hwy. 75 is much closer to FM 1417 than the entrance ramp, so reversing the two ramps will mean drivers traveling north will have to exit earlier to take the FM 1417 exit.

“Both of those ramps are going to be moved further south from where they exist today,” Hefton said. “One of the other considerations on this particular one is the timing of the development at the southeast corner. This will be up to TxDOT because they’re managing the project, but they may end up doing it in two pieces depending on their own schedule and timing of that development in that area.”

Hefton explained the work will likely take about 12 month if TxDOT decides to reverse the ramps back-to-back.

“If they have to delay one, then the duration of it may be more than 12 months, but we’ll know that when we get there,” Hefton said. “We do expect this to be added to their 2018 work plan, since it’s going to be paid for locally. We expect the engineering to be probably (take) six months or something like that.”

Deputy Mayor Pam Howeth also pointed out that the city is working to limit the commercial impact on any businesses currently in the area.

“We’re doing what we can to accommodate them,” she said.