The Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization unveiled potential plans to widen a portion of FM 1417 during its meeting on Wednesday. The plans come as the SDMPO has added the expansion to its list of projects in the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.
In deciding on the project, which will widen the road to four lanes and include a shoulder from U.S. Highway 82 to Taylor Street, SDMPO Director Karl Welzenbach said the organization chose it when evaluating its expected funding and the impact of the proposed projects.
“We have just under $19 million in funding, but $12 million has already been allocated in the (Transportation Improvement Plan),” said Welzenbach. “So that leaves us with under $7 million.”
The project was originally proposed in 2009 as a part of the 2035 MTP. At that time, the project was expected to cost an estimated $6.66 million. The cost is expected to increase over time, with an estimated cost of $10.31 million in 2021.
Welzenbach stressed that the project has not been funded yet and that plans and projects on the plan can change over the years. Still, the word of work on 1417 was good news for Denison-resident Nancy Knapp.
Knapp said she previously spoke to State Rep. Larry Phillips about adding turn lanes on the road after two friends died in traffic accidents on the road.
“Two of my friends were killed on 1417 on the same day,” said Knapp.
The MTP plan does not call for the addition of the turn lanes, as the funding does not allow for it, said Welzenbach. Despite this, Welzenbach said that there is potential funding available for safety projects through the Texas Department of Transportation.
Paul Montgomery, area engineer for TxDOT’s Paris District, said he expects to receive updates on funding for safety projects, including the turn lanes on 1417, later this month. In a previous meeting, Montgomery said the safety funding could become available as early as 2016.
In another matter, the Board received an update on ongoing work on the MTP and the included Bike and Pedestrian Plan. The presentation was led by Bud Melton of Kimley-Horn and Associates.
In conducting studies for the presentation, Melton focused on the areas within a half-mile radius of schools in Denison and Sherman, and analyzed the infrastructure that could be used for bicycle or pedestrian traffic.
Melton showed his analysis of Neblett Elementary in Sherman. The study found that there are sidewalks in the vicinity of the school, but there are breaks in the route that could be streamlined. Melton also highlighted the systems put in place around Austin College as an example of a functioning system with an infrastructure that caters to both vehicle and pedestrian or cyclist traffic.
Melton outlined a system for categorizing and quantifying potential areas for pedestrian and bicycle paths and routes. Each location was given a score between 0 and 100 that was determined by a variety of factors including the proximity to schools, available right of ways, shopping locations and major employers.
In addition to the studies, Melton presented the board a recommendation for alternative transportation projects for the MTP. In presenting the recommendations, Melton categorized the projects into three classes.
Class 3 trails would include traditional bicycle routes and paths throughout both Sherman and Denison. Melton proposed an estimated 43.9 miles of routes through the two cities, including 29 miles in Denison and 14.8 miles in Sherman. For Sherman and Denison, the project is expected to cost $214,000 and $422,000, respectively.
Melton said Sherman, due to its layout and density, would rely more on Class 2 bicycle lanes in existing roadways than traditional bicycle routes and trails. It is estimated that Sherman would require 20.4 miles of bike lanes throughout the city, while Denison would require about eight miles of lanes. The project is expected to cost $408,000 for Sherman and $160,000 for Denison.
In his final proposal, Melton suggested that the cities invest in shared-use paths that can accommodate both foot traffic and bicyclists simultaneously for longer distances. The cities could make use of abandoned train routes for use in laying out the paths, Melton suggested. He estimated that Denison would need about 8.4 miles of shared-use paths and Sherman would need about 15.2 miles. The estimated costs would be $3.7 million and $6.84 million for Denison and Sherman, respectively.
The SDMPO is expected to hold its next meeting on Sept. 17, followed by a policy board meeting on Oct. 1.