Sherman is planning some additional improvements to the sidewalks along Houston and Lamar streets as part of its Streetscapes Project.

The Sherman City Council recently approved a $74,290 change order increase to the contract that was awarded for sidewalk improvements to Highway 19 Construction LLC of Sulphur Springs earlier this year. Thanks to grant funding awarded by the Texas Department of Transportation from the Federal Highway Department, city staff estimated Sherman’s cost for the additional work to be around $7,000.

“When the project was originally bid, it came in under budget, and we kind of knew that we wanted to try to use as much of the TxDOT grant funding as possible,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “And so this addresses that.”

The work, which is the second phase of the Streetscapes Project, was originally for the installation of 10-foot-wide sidewalks along Houston and Lamar streets from Walnut Street to the east, but will now also include curbs and gutters in certain locations along those roadways. These additional features were included as additive alternates with the original bids for the project.

The contract was originally in the amount of $361,076, but with the change order will now be for $435,366. When Highway 19 Construction was originally hired, city staff estimated Sherman’s cost for the project at a little over $40,000. With the change order, Philpott said Sherman would be responsible for about 10 percent of the $74,290 in additional expenses.

“We were awarded about $500,000 of TxDOT grant money and so this is using as much as we can under that project,” he said.

In 2015, TxDOT chose Sherman’s Streetscapes Project for a Transportation Alternatives Program, which will provide the bulk of the funding for the work. The advance funding agreement with TxDOT will see the city paying an estimated $40,783 of the total project’s $515,928 construction cost. When the second phase of the project was discussed in 2016, city staff said 39,800 square feet of existing sidewalks were to be removed and replaced with 68,400 square feet of new 10-foot-wide sidewalks on each side of the street.

Sherman initially started the project in July 2016, but have had to rebid it several times. After the council initially awarded the contract for the second phase of the Streetscapes Project in November of last year, the Federal Highway Department decided not to sign off on Austin Raymond Construction of Royce City because the firm’s bid wasn’t the lowest bid received by the city. The federal approval was needed because of the grant money awarded by TxDOT. The council then canceled the contract with Austin Raymond Construction in February of this year.

In addition to the sidewalks, the second phase of the project will also see 14 ramps installed that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and the creation of eight railroad crossings for pedestrians. The city included $150,000 in the 2015-2020 Capital Improvement Program for the design of the project and as local match funds.

Last year, Philpott explained Sherman received the grant in September 2015 but didn’t sign the agreement to start the design work until July 2016. At that time, the city hoped the have the second phase of the project completed by the summer of 2017 but had to finish environmental studies and other TxDOT requirements before it could advertise for a contractor for the work.

Sherman was awarded a grant from TxDOT in July 2010 for the first phase of the Streetscapes Project. The grant was executed in March 2012 for the amount of $353,977.60, while the city put up the remaining $256,208.91 of the project’s total construction cost of $610,186.51. With the funds, Sherman created pedestrian-friendly plazas around the Grayson County Courthouse and decreased the pedestrian crosswalks. That initial phase of the project was completed in November 2012.