After nearly five years of negotiations, Sherman is prepared to move forward with a road project that will improve east-west connectivity for south Sherman. On Monday, the City Council is expected to act on a request advertise for the extension of E. Park Avenue to E. Lake Avenue.
The extension will reestablish connectivity in the south part of Sherman after a portion of East Lake Avenue collapsed during the summer floods of 2015.
“This is something we’ve been working on for years and years and years to the consternation of people both inside and outside of city government,” Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. “So, the fact we feel we can see the light at the end of the tunnel right now is a big deal and hopefully the beginning of the end of a long ordeal for us.”
Under the proposed improvements, Park Avenue will be extended to reach the portion of Lake Avenue that sits on the other side of two railroad tracks.
Traditionally, Lake Avenue has served as a route in south Sherman to cross the tracks. However, the floods in 2015 destroyed a portion of the roadway and led the city to abandon the stretch that crosses the tracks.
In the interim, the closest crossing for the railroad tracks was to the north at Centennial Avenue.
“Between centennial and 1417, that was the only place to cross the railroad tracks for a good stretch of town,” Strauch said.
Rather than repair Lake, Strauch said the city decided to look at alternative crossing locations before settling on Park Street. At the time, Lake Street was known for illegal dumping and other activity due to its remoteness and its lack of sight lines. Additionally, the repairs would have required the city to raise the road out of the floodplain at substantial cost.
Strauch said the significant delays were in large part due to the negotiations with the railroad.
“The railroad doesn’t have a lot of incentive to negotiate at any speed other than the speed where they feel comfortable,” he said.
Part of the negotiations involved who would pay for the improvements. While the city will ultimately finance the project it is the railroad that will install the two crossings.
“Right-of-way has been the biggest hurdle for us to clear,” Strauch said. “There was a lot of confusion on what deeds were the right deeds to look at. Some of these railroad deeds stretch back to the 1800s, so it isn’t clear cut where the railroad land ends and another person’s land begins.”
City engineers anticipate that the project will cost about $1.1 million. The city initially had relief funds that could have been used for this project, but due to the lengthy negotiations there funds were used on other flood mitigation projects.
The project is expected to take about eight to 10 months to complete, but this is nothing compared to the time it took to get the project off the ground.
“We know residents in that area have been frustrated it has taken so long,” Strauch said. “We as a city are frustrated that it has taken so long but the fact we are close to being able to call that project complete after five years should be a sigh of relief for all.”
The meeting is scheduled to be held at 5 p.m. Monday at Sherman City Hall.
In other matters, the city will also discuss a $445,000 change order for phases II and III of the West Travis Extension project. The increase will bring the total cost for the project to $5.43 million.
The project will see the construction of West Travis to connect the U.S. Hwy. 75 service road to FM 1417 and the site of the future Sherman High School.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.