Area officials received an update Wednesday on the planning phase of work on a 20-year plan for improvements to the U.S. Highway 75 corridor that will include upgrading it to a six-lane divided highway. The update came during a Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting with consultants.
During this discussion, engineers and other representatives voiced some concerns with how data and information is being gathered and calculated amid expected growth in the region in coming years from migration north from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
These concerns included questions on how much growth the region will see in the near future and how to include that in roadway planning.
“I disagree that we cannot predict the future growth rate,” Sherman Director of Public Works and Engineering Clay Barnett said. “Sherman is at 3.3 percent now.”
In the progress report for the project, consultant Larry Redden, representing IEA, said the models being used by the consultants to plan future upgrades along Hwy. 75 are based on 1.8 percent annual growth. However, some feel this underrepresents the growth the region will see in coming years.
Local officials voiced concerns that this might lead to issues later on if growth is greater than these roadways can handle.
Barnett said it is better and cheaper for TxDOT to plan ahead now and purchase right-of-way land early on rather than have to purchase it later after growth has come to the region. SDMPO Director Karl Welzenbach said similar growth seen in recent years in Allen and McKinney could be used as a template for the region.
Other concerns were raised about the grading scale used to judge both current and future congestion. The scale used graded service ranging from an A to F, which represents major problems and back ups. Welzenbach said current plans call for congestion along Hwy. 75 to be held at a C on this scale. Under current models, however, congestion at the intersection of U.S. Highways 75 and 82 is only rated a B.
“These is no way that 75-82 is anything more than an F,” Barnett said, referring to the off ramp for Hwy. 82.
Barnett added that congestion varies on location depending on the time of day, and the models are based only on peek afternoon hours. He added that this model doesn’t fully represent the patterns for these intersections, including the impact of freight trucks destined to travel north on Hwy. 75.
Ed Pultorak, a consultant with Jacobs, said the intersection likely rated highly due to all four corners being calculated as one. Instead, Pultorak said these locations can be separated in future models to better represent the traffic situation.
In other matters, Redden said consultants have received 610 responses to surveys from local citizens about concerns on the roadway. Redden said the majority of these responses have come from local drivers. In previous meetings, SDMPO officials said they hoped for a broad response to the surveys including opinions from drivers coming from Oklahoma.