The Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization recently granted its initial approval to the latest iteration of its four-year planning documents, opening it for public comment and pushing it one step closer to formal approval. The Transportation Improvements Plan highlights proposed and planned roadway and transportation improvement projects throughout Grayson County.

“Every two years, we have to update our Transportation Improvement Plan and this is the year we have a look at that,” SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett said.

The previous version of the plan spanned from 2017 through 2020, with the upcoming document running from 2019 through 2022.

Barnett said very little has changed with regard to projects in the latest update, with only two projects seeing any change in the update. Of these two projects, one was added due to the recent expansion of the SDMPO’s footprint to encompass all of Grayson County. During Wednesday’s meeting, Barnett noted that change has formally been accepted by state officials.

The project in question involves a $1 million grant that the city of Whitewright received from the Texas Department of Transportation for sidewalk projects and improvements along West Highland and FM 151. As Whitewright is now included in the SDMPO coverage area, the plan needed to reflect this project, Barnett said.

The other project that was modified in this update was a series of improvements to FM 121. While the project scope did not change, Barnett said MPO officials transferred $1.3 million in MPO discretionary funding from the project. Instead, the gap will be made up using Category 1 funding, which includes TxDOT preventative maintenance funding.

Barnett said the discretionary funding will be used instead on proposed improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and Spur 503 in Denison. This project would include the reversal of the southbound ramps at the intersection of the two roadways and a reworking of the intersection. Under the proposed changes, motorists traveling along the spur toward southbound Hwy. 75 will be directed onto the service road instead of the current direct connection between the roadways.

As Denison continues to grow, Barnett said there is construction and development on all three remaining corners that necessitates this change. As this improvement is not a maintenance issue, Barnett said the discretionary funds were a better fit for this project.

Denison Mayor Jared Johnson noted the improvements to Spur 503 are currently on the SDMPO’s 25-year plan, but is not reflected in the TIP update. He asked that SDMPO officials be prepared to update the document as soon as possible to reflect this new project so that construction and development are not delayed. The project is expected to see progress as early as 2019, officials said.

As officials are hoping to have the current update included in the August update to the statewide plan, Barnett said the next opportunity will come in November, with the next update to the document.

With regard to the current update, Barnett said he plans to have two public meetings for comment in the coming weeks.

Other projects in the TIP include three major improvements aimed at improving the Hwy. 75 corridor, including the widening of the roadway from four to six lanes from State Highway 91 to FM 1417. These improvements, broken into two projects, is expected to cost about $169.96 million.

A third project will see improvements to the intersection of Highway 82 and Highway 75, including a reconfiguration of the existing ramps and a widening of the frontage road. The project is expected to cost about $27.02 million.