More than $30 million in funding may be available for local roadway improvement projects over the next four years, officials with the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization said Wednesday. The news came as the advisory committee recommended the adoption of an amendment to the organization’s 2015-2018 project plan and the draft up its upcoming 2017-2020 plan.

More than $30 million in funding may be available for local roadway improvement projects over the next four years, officials with the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization said Wednesday. The news came as the advisory committee recommended the adoption of an amendment to the organization’s 2015-2018 project plan and the draft up its upcoming 2017-2020 plan.


"Given that we have $30 million to work with, there are many things that might get added," SDMPO Director Karl Welzenbach said.


The $30 million figure includes more funding than the MPO previously had expected. Welzenbach said the figure was protected on a 10-year funding plan issued by the Texas Department of Transportation. He added that though he said he does not know the source of these additional funds but expects to talk with TxDOT representatives in coming days.


The conversation came up as the committee was discussing an amendment to its current four-year plan and an upcoming plan that will extend from 2017 through 2020.


The proposed amendment, which needs to be accepted by the SDMPO policy board, will include work on State Highway 56 in Sherman to add a shared use path and streetscape improvements. A similar project to link Van Alstyne High School with a nearby park using a shared use path is also included in the amendment.


With these additional funds, Welzenbach said there are a number of projects in the SDMPO’s long-range, 25-year plan that can be moved up in priority and see work in the near future. While no additional projects have been added yet, Welzenbach spoke specifically on a project in Denison that would widen portions of FM 691 as a prime candidate for a future inclusion in an amendment.


The project in question would widen FM 691 from two lanes to four lanes from U.S. Highway 75 west to Loy Lake Road. This would increase traffic capacity leading into Denison’s Gateway Village Development, which is expected to feature a mixture of retail, recreation and residential development at full build out.


Public Works Director David Howerton, who also serves on the advisory committee, said the project will benefit both Sherman and Denison as it improves access to Grayson College and North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field.


"This truly is a regional priority," Howerton said.


Discussions on the improvement date back to 2009 and the opening of Texoma Medical Center on the opposite side of Highway 75. The ultimate goal from this and future improvements will be a direct connection between FM 691 and FM 289 past the airport, he said.


Other potential additions to the plans include work on FM 131. Currently, the advisory committee is recommending two projects be added that would widen the roadway from Taylor Street to U.S. Highway 82 be included in the 2020 plan. A third project would include a widening and improvements on the bridge across Highway 82.


With the additional funds, more widening projects extending from Highway 82 to North Creek could also be included in the short-range plans, Welzenbach said. This would add traffic capacity near Sherman Town Center heading into the Austin Landing addition, Sherman Public Works Director Clay Barnett said.


A second project would extend the widening south from Taylor Street to Highway 75, but Barnett said the funding source for this project has not been identified yet. Barnett also serves on the SDMPO advisory committee.


Welzenbach said he expected to have a number of recommendations before the advisory board for consideration in July.