"Road to nowhere:" City Council debates need for Moore Street extension

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
The Sherman City Council approved a contract for the extension of Moore Street Monday night.

Amid debate on its merits, the Sherman City Council gave the go ahead to move forward with the extension of Moore Street Monday. During a contentious session, which involved questions on if the expansion of the roadway is yet, the council approved a $2.7 million contract with Lynn Vessels Construction for the project.

City officials said the extension, which will run from FM 1417 to W. Travis Street is needed to relieve traffic from the new Sherman High School and development that is expected to follow it. However, members of the council questioned the need and if these funds could be better used elsewhere.

"I just think that I'd like to use the term a road to nowhere," City Council member Willie Steele said. "We've got significant investment by developers north of here. My opinion is that what we are doing here is just increasing the value of this tract of land."

The extension of Moore Street has been in the cards for Sherman for about two years, with plans to use the street as a connector along the FM 1417 corridor — an expected growth sector for Sherman in the near future. At the time that the city started pursuing the first phase of the project, which will include the first two lanes of the ultimate for-lane build out, the expected cost came in at $2.5 million.

However, costs for construction have increased over that time, resulting in bids that came in well above this early estimate. Sherman removed portions of the project, including water and sewer infrastructure and sidewalks, however the price still came in above the initial estimate.

"A little less than two years ago, the estimate for this work was about $2.5 million — this bid came in at 2.7 (million)," Sherman Director of Engineering Wayne Lee said.

The cost is expected to be split between the city and the Sherman Independent School District, who will provide $119,000 for a retention pond. The remaining $2.6 million will be provided through city capital improvement funds.

Members of the city council voiced concerns about the investment, noting the benefit it would have on the proposed Village Development — a currently unrealized multi-use development that would gain access routes through the extension of  Moore. In 2019, representatives for the project said the 600-acre development said at full development the site could see 2,300 new residential units and 680,000 square feet of commercial space for development.

However, little visible progress has taken place at the site, multiple members of the council said.

Steele, who said he wasn't outright opposed to the extension, described the relationship between the developer and city as give and take. However, there has been few results despite the investment. Meanwhile, Council Member Josh Stevenson noted that the city's investment hasn't spurred any development in the past two years.

Steele and others questioned if there were other projects that this money could be better spent on, however staff said that there are no projects currently in development that are ready for construction funding.

Meanwhile, Mayor David Plyler appeared to voice support for moving forward with the project by noting that the city has already invested time and resources through engineering and bidding the project out and it would be best to complete the process.

When put to a vote, the contract with Lynn Vessels Construction was approved with Sandra Melton as the sole dissenting vote.