The city of Denison has committed $350,000 in funding toward a $7.51 million series of improvements to ramps on U.S. Highway 75 between Spur 503 and FM 691. These improvements come as the city prepares for ongoing and future development on what has been called the gateway to the city.

The Denison City Council made the commitment Monday night when it unanimously approved an advanced funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for the improvements. This project is a part of ongoing TxDOT plans to renovate and improve the highway in Grayson County, including the $161 million project to bring the roadway to interstate standards for its full length in the county.

“The goal is to improve safety and access to some of the newly developed areas, most notably along the FM 691 corridor,” City Manager Jud Rex said.

Rex compared the project to recent ramp reversals aimed at increasing access to parcels near Morton Street.

These target areas include the Gateway Village development, — with its future retail uses and the recently completed Texoma Health Foundation Park. Designs for the improvements show a new off-ramp just south of the interchange with Spur 503, with an alternative off-ramp just north of the intersection. An on-ramp will be built near the intersection with FM 691, replacing the existing off-ramp. Other changes include a reroute of the existing service road with the removal of some of the existing segments.

The city’s portion of the project will be funded through the Denison Development Alliance, which previously committed to assisting the city for the improvements. In a separate action Monday, the city approved a budget update for the DDA that reflected this additional investment.

DDA President Tony Kaai said the new expense is not expected to affect the organization’s ability to offer incentives to incoming or existing businesses over the next year.

“Obviously that ramp improvement will help us with access and visibility to the retail and commercial component of Gateway Village,” Kaai said, describing the DDA’s reason for its financial support. “We as a community are a partner with Gateway Village and both parties are making a major investment in Denison.”

The funding and construction of the project is a partnership between the city and other local entities including TxDOT, Grayson County and the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization. Clay Barnett, Executive Director of the SDMPO, said the organization has committed to providing $1.29 million for the project.

“This is a worthwhile project where we have much need for these improvements,” Barnett said.

Barnett said he expects the project to be put out for bid some time next year between April and August. Rex said he expects the planning phase to be completed in early fall 2019.

Documents for Monday’s meeting broke down the cost for the project into four separate categories with Grayson County and the city contributing $5.36 million and $350,000, respectively. State and federal sources will also contribute $360,000 and $1.44 million toward the project.

Barnett said the MPO’s contributions would likely fall within the state and federal categories.

Grayson County commissioners are expected to take action on the county’s side of the agreement Tuesday morning during their weekly meeting. County Judge Bill Magers said he prefers to look at the improvements in Denison not as a lone project, but rather a piece of the greater improvements to the highway corridor.

“This really is one of about nine projects across the county that we are working on,” he said.

Magers said he views this less as a city project and more as a community-wide effort noting that Denison previously allowed SDMPO funds that were originally intended for Denison project to be allocated in improvements to the U.S. Hwy.75 and U.S. Hwy. 82 intersection in Sherman.

“When people don’t have turf battles, things get done,” he said. “I think we all win in the end.”