A third of the way into 2014, the Texas Department of Transportation reported Monday that four of its major Grayson County road improvement projects remain on schedule, with the first openings — and first closings — due to begin next month.

A third of the way into 2014, the Texas Department of Transportation reported Monday that four of its major Grayson County road improvement projects remain on schedule, with the first openings — and first closings — due to begin next month.


The largest of the projects in terms of economic impact is the Loy Lake Bridge expansion near Sherman Town Center. The $6.8 million effort will double the throughput of Loy Lake Road as it crosses U.S. Highway 75. Ragle Construction Project Manager Jason Stultz said Monday that the initial phases of the project took slightly longer than expected, but that crews are now firing on all cylinders.


"We probably fell a little behind schedule early, but we’re hoping to make that up throughout the project," said Stultz.


Ragle had initially planned to close the bridge to traffic next month, and that’s still tentatively the plan, said Stultz. The firm is negotiating with TxDOT over the details, however, and it remains possible that state officials could balk at the company’s timetable and mandate one of their own.


TxDOT officials will hold an informational meeting for the community at 6:30 p.m. on April 3 in Sherman’s Municipal Ballroom. Stultz said they hope to have more details nailed down by that point.


"It will be a public gathering to kind of keep everybody informed and let everybody know the schedule and some of the upcoming traffic switches," he explained


It’s been said that when God closes a door he opens a window, and it appears that when TxDOT closes an overpass, it opens an on-ramp. The organization has completed concrete work on a new exit ramp on U.S. 75 southbound near FM 1417. Department spokeswomen Becky Ozuna said crews will be infilling soil, repaving the frontage road, and lining in the next few weeks before opening the new ramp to traffic in late April. TxDOT will then remove the existing on-ramp, which consists of a pair of tight turns farther to the south.


The 1417 project is a public-private partnership in the truest sense, as the state is picking up half the bill, with a nearby landowner and the Sherman Economic Development Corporation splitting the remainder of the $773,000 price tag. SEDCO Executive Director Scott Connell said a lazier off-ramp was necessary to accommodate the ever-increasing truck traffic into and out of Progress Park.


Head farther to the south on Highway 75 and one will encounter a mile and a half of reflective construction barrels and plenty of overturned earth on the sides of the road. TxDOT is working near Howe to rebuild a portion of Hwy. 75 so that stretch of road better connects with the abutting sections of highway. The $11 million effort is scheduled for completion in October.


"The project consists of rebuilding the main lanes of U.S. 75 and moving them inside to close off the median and match the pavement sections at each end of this project," said Ozuna. "Currently the construction crews are widening the existing pavement to be able to shift traffic over in order to begin work in the existing median."


On the east side of Howe, TxDOT is spending $5.8 to completely repave FM 902 to Tom Bean, and for anyone who’s driven that stretch recently, it’s easy to see why; the 8-mile stretch seems more potholes than asphalt in some stretches. Several miles of road near Tom Bean have already been stripped to dirt, although the state lists the project as only 5-percent complete. Those in the area might as well settle in for the long haul, with work expected to continue through the middle of 2015.