Improvements to Spur 503 and east-west connectivity projects dominated a list of road construction projects expected to take place between 2019 and 2022. The Sherman Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization updated its four-year Transportation Improvement Plan to reflect these newly approved projects.

The MPO policy board initially approved sending the amendments out for public comment in July, but the planning organization received no comments regarding the projects. This represents the first set of amendments to the four-year plan.

“This was something that came out of the Grayson County Thoroughfare Plan study: a need for east-west connectivity,” SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett said. “You look at Grayson County and we have a lot of really nice north-south facilities… If you look at east-west continuous routes, the only one we have is U.S. (Highway) 82.

“That is not sustainable. As Grayson County continues to grow, we are going to have some serious congestion issues.”

The decision to add the projects comes as the county recently approved the purchase of $10 million in bonds toward improvements along the U.S. Highway 75 corridor.

The amendments primarily focused on the years 2019 and 2022, with improvements to the U.S. Hwy. 75 and Spur 503 intersection taking place next year. Barnett said the improvements include a reversal and relocation of the on- and off-ramps at the intersection that is aimed at increasing access to properties along the southbound side of the roadway.

These improvements are primarily focused on increasing vehicle access to these properties and the developments taking place to the south along FM 691, Barnett said.

“If you look along that corridor, we have dirt turning at all four corners,” he said.

In addition to the $7 million improvement project along Spur 503, 2019 will also see a small section of State Highway 289 studied and widened into a four-lane divided highway. Barnett said representatives with the Dallas District of the Texas Department of Transportation plan to expand the highway within the district and extend these improvements for about one mile into Grayson County.

Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said that the roadway has become a commuter route, and the widening will help both with safety and congestion concerns.

This project will not be funded through the SDMPO, but needs to be in its plans as it takes place within the district, Barnett said.

The focus will shift in 2022 to improving the east and west connectivity throughout Grayson County. Through the recent thoroughfare plan, which was conducted by the county, Barnett said U.S. Hwy. 82 was identified as the only continuous east-west connector in Grayson County.

Other roadways, including FM 902 and FM 121 were identified as potential connectors, but Barnett said these routes were not continuous for their entire span, and required drivers to divert onto other roadways to continue travel. In order to provide a fluid route, the MPO plans to build new, two-lane segments of roadway to bridge this gap.

For FM 121, this will include a new segment from SH 289 to Block Road in Gunter and a second segment from U.S. 75 to Cates Road in Van Alstyne. These projects are estimated to cost $3.6 million and $4.4 million, respectively.

FM 902 will also see two new segments of road installed to bridge gaps in the roadway. The first will be located between U.S. 75 and Bennett road in Howe, with the second bridging the gap in Tom Bean from Joe Bob Lane and SH 11. These two projects are expected to cost $4.4 million and $1.8 million, respectively.

Barnett said these four projects will only include two-lane segments for the roadway, but will allow cities to acquire the right of way for future expansions as growth demands.

“This is about staving off a potential issue before it occurs,” Barnett said.

With this latest amendment, the MPO also included a number of other improvements to its short-range plans. The latest updates also added a widening of FM 691 and FM 131 in Denison. Pottsboro will also see SH 289 widened as a part of these improvements.

Barnett said the projects that were added Wednesday will be financed using a combination of MPO funding, funds acquired through the Grayson County bond, and local match funds from each municipality.