Expected updates to local transit improvement plans will have to wait a little longer than initially anticipated, Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization officials said last week.

Expected updates to local transit improvement plans will have to wait a little longer than initially anticipated, Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization officials said last week.


The SDMPO met Wednesday to discuss proposed updates to its Transportation Improvement Plan, which outlines roadway projects from 2017 through 2020. However, amendments to these documents will be delayed by at least one year as officials with the Texas Department of Transportation wait for legislative approval on future roadway funding.


"What I had intended to do was to go through this list of projects and make selections," SDMPO Director Karl Welzenbach said. "I am using past tense for a very good reason."


The SDMPO approved its upcoming four-year plan earlier this spring, with Welzenbach noting in the same meeting that amendments were likely to come as early as November due to TxDOT releasing its projected funding in its current 10-year plan.


Through this projection, Welzenbach said the SDMPO was slated to receive about $93 million more in funding than initially anticipated over the course of the next decade.


With additional funding slated, Welzenbach said the SDMPO would be able to move several projects from its 25-year, long-range plan up in schedule. The SDMPO advisory committee was slated to discuss these projects Wednesday.


However, Welzenbach received notice from TxDOT that the SDMPO will not be able to update its current plans until the Texas legislature votes to approve TxDOT’s proposed funding recommendations. The legislature is not slated to meet again until next year.


"Because the legislature doesn’t meet until next year … the feds, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to not use those projections for our TIPs until we know what is going to happen," Welzenbach said, referring to the Transportation Improvement Plans.


Welzenbach said this leaves the SDMPO with the option to wait until funding is approved or continue initial talks on proposed projects ahead of knowing the final amount of state funding.


Welzenbach presented the committee with a list of 11 projects that he recommended be adopted. The list was formed around the initial estimated funding for each year, with projects scheduled so that all communities within the MPO received projects.


The list included two projects on FM 691 in Denison and two on FM 1417 in Sherman. Both Pottsboro and Van Alstyne also received one project on the proposed list.


TxDOT Area Engineer Aaron Bloom recommended that three projects along State Highway 5 in Van Alstyne be merged together into one single project. He also asked the work on the highway from Spence Road to Baldwin Street be extended south to the intersection with State Highway 121.


Only one of the three projects was listed under Welzenbach’s immediate recommendations. Welzenbach said the SDMPO could calculate the cost of the combined projects, but recommended it be spread across two years to spread out the cost.


Denison City Manager Jud Rex asked that proposed work on FM 691 from State Highway 91 to Pool Road instead stop at Theresa Drive, as Pool Road and the remaining section was recently improved. This would ultimately save the SDMPO money on the project, Bloom said.


Bill Benton, representing Grayson County, expressed concern that delays in amending the plan could constrict the time that the SDMPO has to plan and implement these projects. Welzenbach said in the down time before final funding numbers are announced, the SDMPO can complete the initial phases of engineering and design using an agreement in place with the cities of Sherman and Denison. This would allow for engineers employed by the cities to work through these initial steps.