The Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization announced Friday it would conduct interviews with four firms before choosing one to draft its upcoming thoroughfare plan. This document will outline and describe roadway infrastructure throughout Grayson County as development and expected growth approach the region.
“The goal with this is to have a plan for the ultimate, full build out of Grayson County,” MPO Director Clay Barnett said Friday.
Among the projects that will be outlined in the plan are ongoing improvements to U.S. Highway 75 and the future Grayson County Toll Road.
Members of the MPO Technical Advisory Committee met Friday to discuss the proposals for the thoroughfare plan in a closed, executive session. Barnett said requests for qualifications for the plan were sent out to nine firms, with four responding with proposals. Following the close session, the committee recommended that MPO officials conduct interviews with all four of these firms.
The four firms that responded to the request for proposals was Dallas-based Jacobs Engineering, Freese and Nichols, and Huitt Zollars and Houston-based Walter P. Moore & Associates. Barnett said the MPO or a member city has worked with all four of the firms in the past.
Jacobs is currently working with the MPO on its plan for improvements to U.S. Highway 75. Huitt Zollars has previously worked with the city of Sherman on two road plans and is currently contracting with Denison on the update to its comprehensive plan. Freeze and Nichols also has done work with the city of Sherman on its stormwater utility study.
While the MPO has not directly worked with Walter P. Moore, Barnett said it has worked in the past with multiple consultants who have since joined the engineering firm. These consultants previously worked with the MPO on its 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
Barnett said the document would outline the future needs of the county with regard to transportation infrastructure and plans to meet these needs. Additionally, Barnett said the document would include a financial component on how to raise the funds needed for these projects.
Barnett said the plan has been an ongoing focus for the planning organization, but it has only recently become a priority project. Barnett said this project was one of the reasons he was hired as the MPO director in 2016, but it was only recently that he was able to get the finances in place to fund the project.
Barnett said a thoroughfare plan was previously put in place before his time with the MPO but he is uncertain when it was made. However, he said that draft was limited in its approach. Since then, the MPO has also grown to encompass the entire county.
In 2012, work on another thoroughfare plan started through the University of Texas at Arlington in collaboration with the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority. However, Barnett said this study was also limited in scope and focused its attention primarily to the corridor of the new toll road. Despite the limited scope of this study, Barnett said it could be useful moving forward as the new plan is drafted.
In addition to the direct thoroughfare plan, Barnett said the work will also include studies on land use, planning, demographics and transportation modeling that will be used both locally and by state officials.
“The goal there is that the state is updating its own traffic modeling and we need to submit the data for these categories,” he said.
Throughout the development of the plan, Barnett said consultants would work with all cities in the county, including the small cities that are not currently represented on the committee or policy board, for perspective on what projects and roadways they each see as important in coming years.
For roadways and communities that cross county boundaries, Barnett said the MPO would look at each of their thoroughfare plans to match them. Barnett said he was uncertain if Fannin County had a countywide thoroughfare plan, but said he plans to speak with officials about their transit plans.
“The Red River is such a barrier for transportation that all connections to our neighbors in Bryan County are already fixed,” Barnett added.
Interviews with each of the consultants are scheduled to take place Wednesday, Barnett said, with officials expected to make a recommendation on a favored firm. Following the recommendation, Barnett said the policy board will hold a meeting in early June to accept the recommendation and grant him authority to negotiate with each firm, starting with the first choice.
After the consultant is chosen, Barnett said it work on the document should take about nine months, he said.