A recent freight assessment found that U.S. Highway 75 in Grayson County sees more traffic congestion than portions of Interstate 30.
The first phase of that study, which was commissioned by the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization, surveyed area freight networks to find ways to improve and make the region more attractive to related business. SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett said a second study will be conducted to specifically focus on the freight needs and demands on Hwy. 75. These efforts will include a physical count of freight-related vehicles that travel the highway through Grayson County.
“We are going to continue to focus on freight mobility on (Hwy.) 75,” Barnett said. “We are going to get boots on the ground and going to count the traffic to compare to other nearby highways.”
This study comes as a 20-mile segment of the highway in Grayson County was designated as a critical freight corridor in a statewide freight plan in late 2017. The local freight corridor includes two separate sections of the highway and a portion of State Highway 91 from Hwy. 75 through Spur 503.
Through the first phase of the study, which was conducted by Cambridge Systematics, several findings came back that Barnett recently presented to the SDMPO’s Technical Advisory Committee. The most notable, he said was that Hwy. 75 sees more traffic than I-30 sees in Hunt County.
With this second phase of work, Barnett said consultants will look into the makeup of this traffic to see how much is passenger traffic compared to freight. Barnett said he would also like to compare traffic to portions of Interstate 35.
The focus on freight along the highway comes amid efforts to have Hwy. 75 designated as an interstate. With this designation, Barnett said the area would become significantly more attractive to businesses that rely on interstate travel for freight transportation.
“It is significant to know we have more traffic than (Interstate) 30,” he said. “If the same holds true for (Interstate) 35, it begs the question as why it (Hwy. 75) is not designated as an interstate.”
Barnett said the study concluded half of the existing industry in Grayson is located within two miles of Hwy. 75, and one third is within one mile of the roadway.
Another finding came in response to a recent safety study on U.S. Hwy. 82. Earlier this year, data research and analysis website ValuePenguin listed the highway in Grayson County as among the 50 most dangerous highways in the U.S.
Barnett said he wanted to look into the validity of the study, and found that there are significant safety issues, primarily related to a lack of continuous service roads and freight vehicles. Barnett said sharp turns on the roadway have led to minor wrecks.
“Cars can stop rather quickly and turn left and right, but larger trucks cannot,” he said.
With regard to safety, the study also found two trouble locations — the Hwy. 75/FM 84 interchange and SH 56 at Friendship Road — where roadway curves of traffic interactions could cause trucks carrying liquid loads to roll over due to the shifting weight.
The initial phase of work also found limitations on east/west connectivity in the region, with Hwy. 82 serving as the primary route. As part of the recent countywide thoroughfare study, Barnett said FM 902 and FM 120 were identified as possible connectors, but Barnett said the issue is that neither are currently continuous for their entire routes.
Beyond road freight, the study also concluded North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field could use a customs broker to help facilitate international trade. Portions of the airport were previously designated as a Free Trade Zone, but those uses have since lapsed. The trade zone would allow goods to come into the airport and be re-exported under specific regulations without the need for a customs tax.
NTRA Airport Director Bob Torti said the airport is currently working to re-establish this status, but said details of the arrangement have yet to be determined.
“We are thinking our way through the process,” Torti said via text message. “We have a tenant that it would benefit greatly.”
For the second phase of the study, Barnett said the SDMPO has once again contracted with Cambridge Systematics. The study will be funded using a $65,000 grant using state planning and research funds provided through the Texas Department of Transportation.