While construction crews are still beginning the early phases of improvements to U.S. Highway 75 in Grayson County, the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization is eyeing an additional $51.37 million in improvements to the roadway.

The SDMPO released a draft copy this week of its Transportation Improvement Plan — a four-year look at projects and roadway improvements — for fiscal year 2021 through FY 2024. Among the projects that are listed in the recent update is nearly $51.37 million to widen a new section of the highway from four lanes to six lanes from FM 902 to the Collin County Line.

“We are going to to have six lanes to about two miles short of our southern boundary and then you have a gap up to where we are building six lanes through Sherman,” SDMPO Director Clay Barnett said. “So, the goal of this is to get six lanes all the way from Denison down into the Metroplex. This project is one step closer to completing that goal.”

While the project has been included in the organization’s list of projects it would like to pursue in the next 25 years, this is the first time that it has been included in the more immediate list of projects.

The updated plan includes three new projects that were not included in the previous iteration. In addition to the U.S. 75 improvements, the plan features two new sidewalk projects, including the first project through the SDMPO for the city of Whitesboro.

Barnett said the U.S. 75 project, will resemble the current construction taking place in south Sherman that includes a widening of the highway.

The project has been unofficially referred to as the “gap” project by local leaders as it aims to improve the one section of U.S. Hwy. 75 that isn’t built to current interstate standards.

Beyond the similarities, Barnett said the success local leaders had in bringing the gap project to the eyes of state leaders directly made this second project possible.

“We didn’t have to have as much of a push because that was $160 million and this is significantly less, a third of what the other one was,” Barnett said.

“The gap projected helped show the commission the importance of U.S. 75 through Grayson County,” he continued. “Before we started talking about the gap project, I don’t think anyone in Texas realized there is more traffic on U.S. 75 than there is on the two adjacent interstates, being I-35 and I-30, and geographically the same distance from downtown Dallas.”

Current estimates for the project call for nearly $48.94 million for the construction phase of the second project.

About $44.23 million is expected to be provided by state and federal sources, with an additional 4.71 million coming from local contributions. Barnett said it has yet to be determined who local entities would contribute to the project.

Currently, the project is slated to start construction some time in the 2024 fiscal year, however Barnett said it could be adjusted.

Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.