Sidewalk improvements along Houston and Lamar streets in Downtown Sherman could soon get underway.

The Sherman City Council recently awarded a contract for the second phase of its Streetscape Project to Austin Raymond Construction of Royce City following its bid of $406,804 for the work. The project will include the installation of 10-foot-wide sidewalks along Houston and Lamar streets from Walnut Street to Throckmorton Street.

“It will actually extend the sidewalk east of downtown down Houston and Lamar,” Director of Engineering Clint Philpott said. “It’s a project that’s funded through a TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) grant.”

Philpott explained the Austin Raymond Construction bid was one of two the city received on the project, but the other was rejected as “not qualified.” Documents provided to the council show the rejected bid was from Mitchell Enterprises for $398,673.23.

“This is a project that was rebid based on acquiring qualified bids in October,” Philpott said of the council’s rejection of two previous bids on the project in October.

At the time of the previous bid rejections, City Manager Robby Hefton explained one of the bids was incomplete and the city couldn’t qualify the other bidder as a qualifying vendor.

The awarding of the contract for the work comes nearly 18 months after TxDOT chose the project for a Transportation Alternatives Program, which will provide the bulk of the funding for the work. The advance funding agreement with TxDOT will see the city paying an estimated $40,783 of the total project’s $515,928 construction cost. When the second phase of the city’s Streetscape Project was discussed last year, city staff said 39,800 square feet of existing sidewalks were to be removed and replaced with 68,400 square feet of new 10-foot-wide sidewalks on each side of the street by the summer of 2017.

In August, Philpott explained Sherman received the grant in September 2015 but didn’t sign the agreement to start the design work until July of last year. At that time, the city hoped the have the second phase of the project completed by the summer of 2017 but had to finish environmental studies and other TxDOT requirements before it could advertise for a contractor for the work.

Philpott previously said construction work on the project is likely to start in December, pending TxDOT approval of the bid by Austin Raymond Construction. The construction company will have 120 calendar days to do the work, so completion is expected in April of next year. The awarding of the contract was approved unanimously by the council.

Hefton explained in October that the low number of bids the city received for the work was likely because the second phase of the Streetscape project was a smaller job, so larger contractors weren’t interested because they’re busy with other things.

In addition to the sidewalks, the second phase of the project will also see 14 ramps installed that meet the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, 60 trees planted and the creation of eight railroad crossings for pedestrians. The city included $150,000 in the 2015-2020 Capital Improvement Program for the design of the project and as local match funds.

Once this phase of the Streetscape Project is finished, the city has discussed applying for another grant to do a third phase of the project. Hefton previously said the third phase could complete the project, but depending on the availability of funds from TxDOT, there may be additional phases beyond one more.

The city was awarded a grant from TxDOT in July 2010 for the first phase of the Streetscape Project. The grant was executed in March 2012 for the amount of $353,977.60, while the city put up the remaining $256,208.91 of the projects total construction cost of $610,186.51. With the funds, Sherman created pedestrian-friendly plazas around the Grayson County Courthouse and decreased the pedestrian crosswalks. That initial phase of the Streetscape Project was completed in November 2012.