Sherman is moving forward with plans to expand Flanary Road into a four-lane divided roadway.

The Sherman City Council recently approved a $156,600 engineering contract with Brockette/Davis/Drake Inc. for designs to improve and expand a portion of Flanary Road and Progress Drive. The Sherman Economic Development Corp. board of directors agreed to chip in $62,650 last month for engineering and surveying work on the possible extension of Progress Drive.

“SEDCO has had some growing concern with Progress Drive dead-ending, especially when the train that BNSF (Railway) uses those train tracks (in Progress Park) to block that intersection, which means nobody can get in or out of those industries,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “So with that and the purchase of additional SEDCO land, we started looking at this area.”

The extension of Progress Drive would allow direct access to the west side of SEDCO’s Progress Park industrial area from U.S. Highway 75 and a secondary exit from the industries. The roadway currently provides access to JP Hart Lumber Co., the Panda Power facility and Progress Rail Services, among others.

SEDCO board chairman Brad Douglass explained last month an extension of Progress Drive, which currently comes to a dead end east of Progress Park VI, would allow the corporation to further develop its industrial area.

“It will allow us to go further in and start marketing those land sites we’re building (more),” Douglass said. “It’s really key. We’re coordinating with the city, so we aren’t doing something that they (will) come in later and tear out.”

In a document prepared for the council, city staff said the Progress Drive extension would also improve traffic flow around the city’s industries in Progress Park. With SEDCO paying for the engineering work for Progress Drive, the city’s cost for the design work for Flanary Road is expected to be $94,100.

“As the high school develops and the stuff north of (FM) 1417 develops, Moore Street will actually connect to Flanary (Road),” Philpott said. “(That) will make it a minor arterial to our Master Thoroughfare Plan.”

Sherman voters approved a bond package for the construction of a new Sherman High School campus in late 2017. The school, which is currently under construction at the northwest corner of the intersection of West Travis Street and West Moore Street near FM 1417, is set to open for classes in August 2020.

Philpott said city staff have “been happy” with previous work done by Brockette/Davis/Drake Inc., including designs for West Travis Street and the Sherman Crossroads development near the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 1417.

“The thought is the construction of this (Flanary Road) would be phased according to development, so similar to some of those other extensions that we’ve looked at,” Philpott said. “We won’t be building the four-lane (roadway) now, but we’ll design for it and acquire right-of-way for it, so as this area grows, we’ll have roads.”

Flanary Road runs along the west border of Progress Park II and Progress Park VI. The SEDCO board approved the purchase of 57.3 acres of land west of Progress Park VI for $450,000 last year. That land has now been designated as Progress Park VII. SEDCO added Progress Park VI in November 2017 when the corporation closed on 63.6 acres immediately to the west of the Panda facility. The SEDCO board voted to purchase that land in September of that year for $450,000.