In efforts to increase funding for regional roadway projects, the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization discussed possible changes to its planning area that would cover all of Grayson County. Currently, the MPO’s planning boundary covers central portions of Grayson County, centralized around Sherman, Denison and U.S. Highway 75 corridor.

In efforts to increase funding for regional roadway projects, the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization discussed possible changes to its planning area that would cover all of Grayson County. Currently, the MPO’s planning boundary covers central portions of Grayson County, centralized around Sherman, Denison and U.S. Highway 75 corridor.


Under the proposed changes, the MPO could receive about $11 million in additional state funding over the course of the next decade, SDMPO Director Karl Welzenbach said on Tuesday.


With this, the SDMPO could invest in roadway improvements in its main corridor between U.S. Highway 75 and the proposed route for the future Grayson County Toll Road, County Judge Bill Magers said.


"We’ve been reluctant to expand the boundaries because basically you take that finite amount of money and spread it across many more projects," he said.


"We have some opportunities to increase some of our funding for the MPO," Magers continued. "So, again, if we go down this path we need to be very cognizant and careful that the dollars are spent in the corridor I just mentioned and we keep our focus on that part of Grayson County."


This opportunity came about with the passing of House Bill 20 late last year, Welzenbach said. The bill was created to increase transparency within the roadway project selection process, but also had the effect of changing how each MPO’s portion of state funding is selected. This is the first time this formula has been discussed in over a decade, Welzenbach said.


Under the current formula, MPOs of less than 200,000, including the SDMPO, collectively receive 13 percent of the funding granted to similar organizations throughout the state. The SDMPO receives about 5.31 percent of the funds allocated for smaller MPOs.


Welzenbach said there is currently discussions regarding the percentage of state funding allocated to smaller MPOs, with larger areas arguing that only 11 percent should be allocated.


Under the proposed changes to the formula, a greater focus will be placed on the number of lane miles in an MPO system, and to a lesser extent, the number of vehicle miles traveled by trucks and freight.


By incorporating additional state and federal roadways into the MPOs service area, including U.S. Highway 377, FM 902, U.S. Highway 82, and FM 121, Welzenbach said the MPO can increase this number giving it access to a larger percentage of the available state funds.


Welzenbach clarified that this is based on the number of lane-miles within the MPO’s planning area. For example, one mile of road along U.S. Highway 82 would count as four lane-miles since the highway has two lanes in each direction, he said.


The majority of increased funds would come from funding generated through Proposition 1 and Proposition 7, which divert a portion of the state Rainy Day Fund income and motor vehicle sales tax to roadway funding, respectively.


Welzenbach said the MPO Policy Board would need to discuss how these changes would affect board representation in the future, and the organizational bylaws may need to be updated to reflect these changes.


Whitesboro City Administrator Michael Marter said on Tuesday that he was unaware of discussion, which would add Whitesboro to the MPO planning area. Marter said he needed more information on the proposed changes before discussing what impact it would have on the city.


Currently, the city receives funding for the four state and federal roadways that go through town through the Texas Department of Transportation Paris District.


"Our only involvement with the MPO was in corridor studies for the entire county," Marter said.