WHITE OAK — The city of White Oak has learned it’s getting more sidewalks than were originally planned and at a cheaper cost to local taxpayers.

“It’s a big deal for the city,” White Oak City Coordinator Charlie Smith said about a plan to construct sidewalks on FM 3272 — also known as White Oak Road — along the road.

Originally, the sidewalks were to be built from U.S. 80 north to Bermuda Lane specifically to serve pedestrian students of White Oak ISD under the state’s Safe Routes to Schools grant program.

The Texas Department of Transportation now has included sidewalks in its upcoming repair and resurfacing improvements to FM 3272 slated to begin next fall, TxDOT Tyler District Transportation Planning Director Jeffery Harmon said Wednesday at a Longview Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board meeting. Harmony expects the contract to open to private construction bidders in August.

The news came one day after White Oak City Council members approved a new funding agreement with TxDOT during their regular monthly meeting at City Hall.

The state already had taken over engineering responsibilities, saving the city from hiring a private engineering contractor, Smith said. The changes also mean that sidewalks will now extend to FM 3272’s northern terminus at George Richey Road.

The city of White Oak will pay $163,884 as its share in the cost of the sidewalks, which is less than the $180,000-plus that it would have been responsible for because a 50-50 required match under the Safe Routes to Schools grant, the coordinator said.

Smith already had approached White Oak City Council members about extending White Oak Road sidewalks farther north to better connect with the city’s existing walking and biking trails as well as sidewalks planned along George Richey Road when the state completes a two-phase widening project that begins in 2021, he said.

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.