Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation estimate that it could take under three years to complete a series of improvements to U.S. Highway 75 that will see the highway brought up to current standards making the highway eligible for interstate highway standards.

The section has been dubbed “the gap” by local officials as the one piece of the highway that does not meet standards. The project will see the roadway widened to six lanes for a four-mile stretch of highway from FM 1417 to State Highway 91.

Officials with TxDOT gave an update on the project before the Sherman City Council Monday night.

TxDOT officials said the project has been a long goal for the Paris District, but has always been out of reach due to the scope and price tag. However, local participation from area entities, including Sherman and Grayson County, has made the improvements a reality.

“I’ve been working in this area for almost 25 years, and U.S. Highway 75 has always been a project that we’ve been trying to fund,” TxDOT Paris District Engineer Noel Paramanantham said Monday. “The reason we couldn’t was because of how much it would cost.”

When the contract with the project was awarded in September, the cost for the project came in at $163 million, making it the most costly project on record for the Paris District. By comparison, the next most expensive project was $70 million, Paramanantham said.

For the scope of the project, Paramanantham said the project will also include the reconstruction of bridges throughout the route and the intersection with U.S. Highway 82. Ramps and approaches along the route will also be rebuilt to account for modern traffic. Previously, area transportation officials said the ramps are outdated and not made for modern traffic speeds.

For the bidding process, Paramanantham said TxDOT included time and price as a criteria for deciding who would be awarded the contract. The transportation department set a guideline of about 1,000 days for the project and faster completion times would be considered.

The contract was awarded to San Antonio-based Zachry Construction, who plan to complete the work within 800 days, nearly a year under the TxDOT projection.

The contractor wants to start on the project as soon as possible, but Paramanantham said it will likely be the start of the new year before construction starts due to the holiday season. One of the early milestones for the project will be to have the section near West Travis Street completed alongside the opening of the new Sherman High School in August 2020.