TxDOT hopes to close "the gap" by late 2023

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation hope to have work completed on U.S. Highway 75 completed by late 2021.

Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation predict that it may be the summer of 2023 before the construction on U.S. Highway 75 finally is completed.

Representatives with the TxDOT Paris District gave an update on the U.S. 75 "gap" project, along with area roadway improvements, before Sherman city leaders Monday night. The $155 million gap project, a long-time priority for both Sherman and Grayson County, will see a four-mile segment of  U.S. 75 brought up to interstate standards and expanded into a six-lane highway.

"There is a lot of work that still has to be done," Paris District Engineer Noel Paramanantham said Monday.

The origins of the gap project date back to around 2017 when area leaders began to pursue improvements that would update the highway from about FM 1417 to State Highway 91. Previously, county and regional transportation leaders have said that the highway is in need of an update as it was not designed for modern traffic patterns and speeds.

In addition to the improvements on U.S. Highway 75, the project will also see improvements to the intersection with Highway 82. Among the flow and congestion improvements are dedicated U-turn bridges that will allow traffic to change direction without entering the intersection itself.

One year into the greater gap project, Paramanantham said the project is about 20 percent complete. The focus point is currently on south Sherman, where a bridge will be built to extend Travis Street across the highway. This will give new and improved access to the new Sherman High School site, which is expected to open to students next month.

The bridge is expected to open for traffic next August. Paramanantham said there are incentives in play if the bridge is opened earlier than expected. However, delays and setbacks make August likely.

While the Texas Department of Transportation has many projects scheduled for this week, the main one will include work on US Highway 75 between FM 1417 and SH 91.

District officials are considering some options that may save some time, including setting up stop signs while the signals at the intersection are completed. This could allow the bridge to open to traffic about three months earlier than predicted, Paramanantham said.

Crews are also expected to complete the first phase of improvements at the U.S. 75 and U.S. 82 intersection next summer. This will allow crews to start moving some of the traffic onto the new bridge segments and allow crews to move forward with the project.

Council Member Pam Howeth asked when crews are expected to start removing the pedestrian bridge and a train trestle over the highway. Paramanantham said it should be coming in the next few months.

"It will be a major undertaking and we almost have to close the main lanes to take those out," he said.

Once construction is completed on the current highway project, Paramanantham said other projects that build off of the gap project will be ready to move forward. Paramanantham said the first segment will extend from the Collin County line to FM 902. The $60 million project has been funded and is currently in the design phases.

A second project will pick up where the first left off and extend improvements from FM 902 north and tie into the improvements at FM 1417. Paramanantham said this project has yet to be funded, but estimated it may cost about $70 million.

Meanwhile, Paramanantham said another project, which he referred to as the second gap, would continue improvements north along U.S. 75 from SH 91 to U.S. 82. However, this project has yet to be completed.

""That's section is very rough," Sherman Mayor David Plyler said. 

Everybody knows that you are going to fix that finally." 

Despite the focus on U.S. 75, Paramanantham said other roadway projects are also moving forward. A $31 million project that will improve FM 1417 is about 15 percent complete and crews are currently expected to finish work in 2024.

"It is going to be quite an effort getting people where they need to go for several months, but it will be great when it is done," Plyler said.

Traffic is expected to divert onto a new bridge across sand creek by 2024, he said.