When the calendar rolls over to 2015 ten months from now, getting into and out of Sherman’s Town Center should be a breeze. Sporting double its current throughput, the Loy Lake Road bridge, which connects the shopping center to the rest of the city, should have drivers zipping this way and that. Bridge-length turn lanes in both directions will accommode rush hour traffic with ease.

When the calendar rolls over to 2015 ten months from now, getting into and out of Sherman’s Town Center should be a breeze. Sporting double its current throughput, the Loy Lake Road bridge, which connects the shopping center to the rest of the city, should have drivers zipping this way and that. Bridge-length turn lanes in both directions will accommode rush hour traffic with ease.

But as for the estimated 268 days between next Monday — when construction on the bridge begins — and the project’s completion, well, that’s another story — this story, in fact.

In order to provide Texomans with a guide to what they can expect during the construction, the Herald Democrat obtained documents from the Texas Department of Transportation that detail exactly what the area will have to endure, and when. (To follow along with blueprints for the project, visit http://bit.ly/1bzOpye and click on the corresponding links.)

Phase I – Monday through early April

The core concept of the project is widening the bridge from 44 feet across to 102 feet, which would double the available lanes from three to six. A sidewalk will also be added to the bridge, making U.S. Highway 75 safely traversable for pedestrians for the first time.

The initial phase of the project, which will ramp-up on Monday, accomplishes much of the heavy lifting of the bridge widening with minimal traffic disruption. Crews will spend the first two-plus months of the project creating the substructure for the added bridge lanes, which will be built north of the existing lanes.

Once completed, the bridge will provide eastbound traffic with two through lanes and one bridge-length turn lane, all of which will be located on the existing bridge structure. Westbound traffic entering Town Center will see a mirrored lane configuration on the newly created portion of the bridge.

Phase I will also include the addition of a new turnaround connecting the southbound frontage road with westbound Loy Lake. Motorists will see only side-of-the-road barricades during this portion of construction, as all lanes of traffic should remain in service while crews create the new bridge.

Phases II & III – April into August

The same can’t be said for traffic problems once the bridge substructure is complete. Beginning in April, construction crews will shut down access to the bridge completely as they reconfigure the intersections at each end of the structure. The closure of Loy Lake Road on the east side of the bridge, originally construed as a separate phase, will be conducted concurrent to the intersection work, said Jason Stultz, a project manager with Ragle Construction. If approved by TxDOT, the simultaneous construction should speed the project considerably, said Stultz. The Loy Lake approach will be expanded and the entrance to the adjacent shopping center, reconfigured.

During this stretch of construction, traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction for those traveling on the frontage roads. This phase will see the signal lights fall at both bridge intersections, temporarily replaced by all-way stop signs. Northbound motorists attempting to access Town Center will need to travel an additional two miles — to Fallon Drive and back — in order to cross the highway.

TxDOT will be erecting temporary traffic signals on Fallon to handle the additional traffic. Alternately, those seeking to enter Town Center from the south can take Travis Street across Highway 82, turning right onto Pecan Grove Road to enter the center from the back.

Southbound drivers hoping to access restaurants and retail on the east side of the highway will need to venture past Town Center to the 75/82 interchange before circling back.

Phase IV – September - October

Traffic headaches will abate slightly as the project enters its fourth phase, while the pace of construction will quicken. The new bridge will open to traffic in both directions, although flow will be restricted to one lane heading west. Eastbound drivers, however, will finally be able to enjoy unfettered access to the bridge, with two through lanes and a full-length turn lane available to those looking to head north on 75.

Construction crews, meanwhile, will focus their efforts on the southbound frontage road approaching the bridge. A temporary turnaround will be replaced with permanent asphalt, and crews will expand Loy Lake Road on the bridge’s west side from one lane to two.

Phase V – October - November

The project’s fifth phase will also focus on the bridge’s western intersection, but will require closing Loy Lake Road as it approaches the bridge from the west. Motorists who wish to keep heading east will be forced to reroute with a U-turn and a quick right onto a cannibalized portion of the turnaround.

Non-TxDOT entities including the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization and the city of Sherman will complete several projects to help integrate the expanded roadways with current streets. Particularly on the project’s southern boundary, several merge lanes will need to be created to allow traffic the time and space it needs to bottleneck itself efficiently.

Phase VI – November - December

The final phase of construction, budgeted for two weeks in December, involves aesthetic changes and asphalt treatment. The contractor will use colored and stamped decorative concrete in the Loy Lake Road medians, and will apply surface treatments to several stretches of the new road.

All told, the project will cost approximately $6.8 million, with the city of Sherman covering about $400,000 of that figure. The majority of the money will come from bonds funded by Proposition 12, a transportation initiative passed by the Texas Legislature in 2007. Stulz said that if work goes according to plan, they hope to be finished with the project before Christmas.