The Texas Department of Transportation expects to have a contract in place for improvements to FM 1417 later this month. Plans include the reconstruction and widening of the roadway from U.S. Highway 82 to State Highway 56 in what the city of Sherman sees as a major growth corridor in coming years.

The project was made possible thanks to local contributions from Sherman in the form of right-of-way acquisition and construction costs. Without the contributions, the project would have been a lower priority for TxDOT, Engineer Noel Paramanantham of the Paris District said,

The trend for cities providing local match funds and services has been a growing trend as a way to increase interest from the transportation department in projects. The city previously committed about $8 million in local funds toward improvements to U.S. Hwy 75 that are valued at over $160 million.

“There has been this myth that Grayson County is the only one looking at this,”Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization Director Clay Barnett said in 2018. “… It is $6.5 billion dollars that local communities are putting into TxDOT over the next 10 years. So, the idea that Grayson County is the only county or local entity that is looking into investing in our state roads or partnering with the state on the state roads is woefully incorrect.”

From the city’s perspective, the improvements along FM 1417 are important as the roadway represents a major growth corridor. With plans for a new 600-acre, multi-use development, and the opening of the new Sherman High School around the corner, the city expects more traffic along the route in coming years.

“From the city of Sherman’s perspective, a two-lane 1417 represented a major bottleneck in present and future development on the city’s west side,” Sheramn Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “The state asks cities to pony up if they want their projects considered for road dollars, and the 1417 corridor is vital enough for Sherman’s future that we begrudgingly wrote that check. “Pay to Pave” is unfortunate, but it’s the reality of the situation for cities across Texas.”

“This is another example of how financial leverage can help elevate a project,” he said. “If not for that, the priority on this project would have been low.”

The improvements are one of several proposed projects by TxDOT along FM 1417. A contract for a second project that will see improvements to the intersection with West Travis Street is expected to be signed some time in January, Paramanantham said.

TxDOT is expected to also install a street light at the intersection some time in the near future.

Two other projects have yet to be funded, but Paramanantham said he homes to have these sections included in TxDOT’s project plans for 2021. The first project will extend widening from SH 56 to W. Travis, while a second will pick up from that point and extend to U.S. Highway 75.

The schematic and right-of-way plan is expected to be completed soon, and a construction plan will soon follow, Paramanantham said.