Motorists on Sherman’s west side will soon see a decrease in the speed limit on State Highway 289.


The Sherman City Council approved a speed limit decrease to 70 mph for the portion of Hwy. 289 in the city limits during a meeting Monday. The decrease, which will lower the speed limit from the current 75 mph, was approved after a request from the Texas Department of Transportation and following a public hearing on the matter.


“In January, TxDOT finalized a speed study for the corridor along (Hwy.) 289 from FM 120 all the way to State Highway 56,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “The results of that study form a recommendation to reduce the speed, in our area specifically, from 75 mph down to 70 mph.”


No one came forward to speak during the public hearing, which was required to replace the previous ordinance on the speed limit for the stretch of highway. That ordinance was adopted on Aug. 1, 2011.


A document created for the council states TxDOT’s speed study on the area was performed to determine the “maximum, reasonable and prudent speeds” for vehicles traveling on the highway in Sherman’s city limits. The portion of the highway within city limits goes from just north of U.S. Highway 82 to a little south of West Washington Street.


Before the ordinance was approved, council member Josh Stevenson asked Philpott whether the city had any information on why TxDOT wanted the speed reduced.


“They called it a safety study, so I have a feeling they took into account recent accidents along the road,” Philpott said. “And then they actually log in the traffic through that area and figure out what the 85th percentile (speed is).”


The city’s director of engineering explained on the southbound side of the highway, the 85th percentile speed was about 72 mph, but traffic traveling north on the highway had a higher general speed.


“They determined, I guess with the increased population growths in Grayson County, that road not being divided probably fit in more of that 70 mph rather than 75 mph,” Philpott said.


The total distance of highway that is getting a new speed limit through this ordinance is 3.15 miles. The new ordinance states anyone found guilty of speeding in the section could be hit with a fine of up to $500.


“I can tell you there’s a lot of cyclists that use that (Hwy.) 289 corridor to cycle up and down from Collin County all the way up to the lake,” Deputy Mayor Shawn Teamann said. “Any reduction in speed, they would probably benefit from and appreciate.”


A letter from TxDOT to City Manager Robby Hefton states the speed limit for adjacent sections of the highway not within Sherman city limits could also be changed.


“Our District Traffic Office has completed a new speed study for safety reasons on SH 289,” traffic engineer Darius Samuels wrote. “The Texas Transportation Commission will pass a minute order changing the speeds in the rural areas adjacent to your city. We need your concurrence to change the speeds within your city limits.”


In May of last year, the council approved a 15 mph speed limit increase on U.S. Highway 82 at the request of TxDOT. That change increased the speed limit on Hwy. 82 to 75 mph for the easternmost 2.537 miles of the roadway to the city limits. At the time of the change, Philpott explained the request came after TxDOT completed a lane extension project on Hwy. 82 between Sherman and Bonham.