Planned improvements to the U.S. Highway 75 corridor throughout Grayson County include more than $161 million of work across a four-mile stretch of the highway that could see construction begin in less less than two years. Representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation unveiled the plans during a public meeting Thursday night at the Sherman Municipal Building

“Our main goal is, first of all, to bring the roadway to current design standards, ensure the ramps are places where they make the most sense with mobility and accessibility and address the future growth of the region,” Noel Paramananthem, district engineer for the TxDOT Paris District, said.

During Thursday’s meeting, officials outlined both long- and short-term plans for the roadway, with the eventual goal of providing improvements across a nearly 13.7 mile stretch of highway from FM 1417 to Morton Street in Denison. These improvements would include the creation of continuous, three-lane service roads along the highway, among other improvements.

However, the district is currently focusing on the section from FM 1417 to State Highway 91, which has already been funded by the state. This would close a gap in the highway that does not meet current interstate standards by increasing the footprint to six lanes, among other upgrades.

Area officials have made efforts in recent years to have the highway designated as an interstate, which would bring additional federal funding for the highway with it.

In addition to the four-mile stretch, the first phase of improvements would also see the reconstruction of the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and Hwy. 75. Paramananthem said the improvements would be focused primarily on creating additional capacity “within the box” that makes up the intersection of the two highways.

This phase of work would also see a rerouting of some service roads to move them further away from the intersection, effectively creating more maneuvering space for traffic exiting the highways.

With these improvements, Paramananthem said a major goal of TxDOT is bringing the highway up to standards consistent of a highway designed for 70 mph speeds. Currently, the highway is designed to 1960s standards with an expected speed of 50 mph.

During the first phase of improvements, Paramananthem said TxDOT will likely only need a little additional right of way near Center Street, and the Hwy. 75/Hwy. 82 intersection.

Sherman Mayor David Plyler, who was in attendance Thursday, said he has been focused on improving safety along the roadway since he was elected as mayor.

“This is really a culmination of the efforts of Sherman, TxDOT, Denison, the SDMPO (Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization) and other groups to improve and maintain the 75 corridor,” he said, voicing his approval for the proposed plans.

Plyler went on to add that the improvements to the Hwy. 75/Hwy. 82 intersection would likely see the greatest impact to Sherman.

For his part, Denison City Manager Jud Rex agreed his city would likely not see as great an impact during the first phase. However, he noted that during later phases TxDOT is expected to make major changes to the intersection with Spur 503, converting the direct connection between the roads into a conventional intersection.

“I think the highway is pretty straight forward in Denison and lacks many of the curves you tend to see in Sherman,” Rex said.

Longer range plans call for additional improvements to the highway service roads, and in some locations will raise the highway to address speed transitions and flood plain concerns. This includes a longer stretch of roadway extending from Washington Street to Lamar Street that will be a 30-foot-tall bridge. TxDOT Paris District Public Information Officer Tim McAlavy said there is currently no time frame for these improvements, and no funding has been allocated for them as of yet.

TxDOT officials said the first phase of the project will likely be ready for bid in September 2019, with construction possible as soon as December of that year.