In an effort to advance the relocation of the Blalock Fire Station No. 4, Sherman moved forward with a project to extend Northgate Drive at a price higher than city staff wanted. However, through some adjustments and changes, the city is saving more than $141,000 on the project.

The Sherman City Council recently approved a $141,283.22 change order decrease for the Northgate Drive Extension Project. The council awarded the contract for the Northgate Drive extension to Vessels Construction in November. The relocation of that fire station from the southeast corner of the U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417 intersection will allow Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille to build an entertainment and retail development at that corner.

“This project was bid in November and actually came in over budget,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said of the Northgate Drive extension. “Because of the construction schedule of the fire station, we went ahead and awarded the project and then immediately looked at ways to save some money to get it back in line with what our initial budget was.”

The extension of Northgate Drive is part of the design that was done for the West Travis Street extension. The extension of Travis Street on the west side of Hwy. 75 currently goes through the Sherman Crossroads development and will ultimately be a four-lane, divided roadway that will connect with OB Groner Road at its intersection with FM 1417. Northgate Drive is on the north side of FM 1417 and currently extends about three-quarters of the way through the Progress Park I industrial area, but will eventually connect with West Travis Street.

A document created for the council states design changes — such as the removal of a “hammerhead” turn around for the roadway — were made in order to lower the project’s total cost. The $141,283.22 decrease yields a final contract price of $852,301.71.

“One of the things that we did, was we removed the water line construction,” Philpott said. “Our utility crews in house are going to be installing that. And the other was a significantly large headwall that we were able to extend the box culvert and use basically side slopes to reduce the size of that, which was another significant savings.”

The council approved the change order unanimously — though council member Jason Sofey was absent from the meeting — and thanked Philpott for the efforts of city staff to find cost savings.

“We like seeing those,” council member Willie Steele said of the change order decrease.

In addition to the work currently underway for the Northgate Drive extension, work on the city’s new Fire Station No. 4 is also underway on the roadway. The council accepted the general warranty deed earlier this year from the Sherman Economic Development Corp. for the 7.7109 acre tract of land on the east side of Northgate Drive that will be used for the new station. The SEDCO board of directors had approved the sale of the land in January to the city for $1.

During the groundbreaking ceremony for the new fire station in January, Mayor David Plyler said the “new, state-of-the-art Fire Station No. 4 will provide excellent lifesaving access for our employers in Progress Park, the nearby homes and apartments on FM 1417, and eventually, the new Sherman High School.”

The council approved an economic development program agreement with Schulman’s owner Mark Schulman for the entertainment and retail development last year. The agreement will provide a cash grant of 50 percent of the sales tax generated by the planned commercial development over a seven-year period. However, the agreement puts a $1.5 million cap on the cash grant, and the agreement expires once the seven-year period ends.

City staff said the commercial and retail center development is expected to bring around $25 million in capital investments to the location and generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual sales tax revenue for Sherman.