As a part of an update to its planning documents, the Sherman-Denison Planning Organization’s Technical Advisory Committee recently proposed the inclusion of more than $19.8 million for road projects in the small cities of Grayson County. Here are five things to know about the list of projects.


1. Projects aim to increase connectivity amid growth


SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett said the majority of the small-cities projects involve the creation of new bypasses through the smaller cities of Grayson County. These projects include a $3.6 million bypass along FM 121 from State Highway 289 to Block Road in Gunter, and a second bypass on FM 121 from U.S. Highway 75 to Cates Road in Van Alstyne with an estimated cost of $4.4 million.


The two remaining bypass projects will occur along FM 901, with a $4.4 million segment from U.S. Hwy. 75 to Bennett Road in Howe, and a second $1.8 million project in Tom Bean from State Highway 11 to Joe Bob Lane.


Two additional projects were also included in the small-cities projects that were recommended Wednesday. The first would include the widening of State Highway 289 from Spur 316 to FM 120 to four lanes with a median in Pottsboro. The second would include the construction of a new two-lane frontage road and ramp reversals along U.S. Highway 82 from U.S. Highway 377 to Shawnee Trail in Whitesboro.


2. The origins of the projects


Barnett said the inclusion of the projects in the SDMPO’s 25-year Metropolitan Transportation Plan and four-year Transportation Improvement Plan came up earlier this year when the SDMPO set out to update the documents. As part of the process, Barnett contacts the smaller cities, many of whom were recently added to the SDMPO as a part of its expansion, for a list of transportation projects they would like to see.


In some of the cases, Barnett said he added additional projects that he felt were going to be needed in the coming years.


3. The projects come ahead of anticipated growth


Barnett said the bypass projects will assist with projected future traffic patterns and direct traffic around the center of many of the towns. While the growth may be years away, Barnett said it is imperative to start the work now while land is still available.


“If we do not get the right of way established now, the growth will prevent it in the future, and the roads can’t be expanded through the center of these towns cost effectively,” Barnett said. “Right now, if you are on (FM) 121 going westbound, for example, you have to go into Van Alstyne, make a right on Highway 5, make a left on (FM) 121. That works today, but we are somewhere in the vicinity of 1,600 lots proposed in the city right now.”


4. Funding for the improvements


For these small city projects, Barnett said a proposed bond would allow Grayson County and the SDMPO to finance the improvements, leaving the cities to acquire the right of way for the projects. Barnett said this is contingent on the Grayson County Commissioners Court approving the expense.


5. Future steps


Currently, the projects are slated to see work in 2022. Barnett said the projects still need to be approved by the individual cities, who will then acquire the land needed for the project. Grayson County Commissioners also need to discuss and approve amendments to the two plans and the bond that would finance the project as well, he said.