With an eye toward future growth on the horizon, the Sherman and Denison City Councils approved the adoption of the Grayson County Thoroughfare Plan during separate meetings Monday night. Following the adoption by the cities, the Grayson County Commissioners Court took the same action Tuesday morning.

“As we continue to grow, it’s critical that we plan for where our major thoroughfares and our minor thoroughfares are going to go,” County Engineer Clay Barnett said. “So that way as we grow, we can preserve those right of ways and make sure that people can get seamlessly from one side of the county to the other without going down a small road or a congested roadway.”

The plan, which covers all of Grayson County, outlines the various major roadways and thoroughfares throughout the region, along with expected future traffic needs and demands. In addition to this, the plan also recommended some roadway projects based on expected future demographics and growth patterns.

The project first saw light in mid-2017 when county leaders called for a plan to outline Grayson’s transportation network ahead of future growth from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. As a part of the project, cities of Sherman and Denison agreed to participate and support the project financially, along with the county.

In Sherman on Monday, Barnett thanked the city for its participation in the project, something he echoed to the Denison council and commissioners.

“I really want to thank the council for their participation on this project,” Barnett said in Sherman on Monday. “As you recall, it’s a $300,000 project. We received $80,000 from the Grayson County, $40,000 from the city of Sherman and $20,000 from the city of Denison. So without your participation, this project would not be possible.”

Among the pieces of the plan, consulting firm Huitt Zollars outlined and mapped many of the roads throughout the county and classified them based on their use as principal, major or minor arterials. The plan also included the proposed and alternate routes for the future Grayson County Toll Road.

As part of the research to determine future use and demand, the consultants also predicted the future population growth in the region. In February, Huitt Zollars released initial results and predicted the county would see a population of about 330,000 by the year 2050.

Following the unanimous approvals in Sherman and Denison on Monday, County Judge Bill Magers praised the project and the county’s governments for working together.

“This has been an ongoing project for Grayson County as part of our steps as we get ready for growth coming our way,” Magers said. “And I especially appreciate Sherman and Denison being here today because our county does great things when we work together. This plan is truly a project that has had input from the smallest cities in the county to the largest. It’s been tweaked, it’s been reviewed and I think it’s a blueprint for moving forward.”

Barnett led presentations to each of the three government entities earlier this year and said the finalized plan that was approved by each of the bodies this week was “substantially the same” as what was presented earlier.

For the city of Denison, the adoption of the plan comes as the city is drafting the latest version of its comprehensive plan, which serves as a guiding document for preferred future land use. The document was last updated in 2002, with city officials noting that it is typically updated every five years.

As part of the comprehensive plan, the city also included its own thoroughfare plan on a city scale. However, the plan mostly follows what is included in the county-wide plan, Denison Planning and Zoning Manager Steven Doss said. In the places that the two plans differ, the city’s thoroughfare plan calls for even stricter guidelines, Doss said.

“Essentially where there are any differences in those plans, the city’s right of way dedication requirements are actually larger and greater than the county’s,” he said, noting that the city also contracted with Huitt Zollars for the comprehensive plan. “For example, they may have a major arterial that, for example, requires 110 feet of right of way. The city requires 120 feet of dedication.”

Magers said the approvals of the thoroughfare plan from Sherman, Denison and the county were just the beginning of a process he’d like to see completed in the next few months. Among the projects that will start the planning phase in the next two months are improvements along U.S. Highway 75 in Denison, officials said.

“The bottom line is that it is our hope that in the near future, within 60 days, we will be moving forward with some projects that are near and dear to Denison’s heart at (Spur) 503 and (FM) 691,” Magers said.

City Manager Jud Rex said the projects Magers was referring to would involve the reversal of the ramps between the two roadways. Future plans for Spur 503 call for the transition from a direct connection with Hwy. 75 to a more traditional intersection, officials said previously. This would help make it possible for adjacent properties to be developed at some point in the future.

“We, as a commissioners court, are going to take on some challenges we haven’t had in the past because this is a thoroughfare plan that is a plan that we’re going to tweak it and massage it as we go along, but we finally have a plan,” Magers said. “Our next step is to go to the smaller cities and get their blessing. Our goal is to have this thoroughfare plan adopted by all of Grayson County.”

The first stop in that process will be a visit to the Tom Bean City Council meeting on June 18.