This summer's anticipated opening of Earl Campbell Parkway is exciting, but for more reasons than simply easing traffic congestion, Tyler officials said Thursday.
“Earl Campbell Parkway has tremendous potential to open up new development and investments and economic growth on the West-Northwest Loop,” Tyler Economic Development Council CEO Tom Mullins said. “It opened hundreds of acres that had never been developed. It was previously used for farming, but never developed.”
“This road is just a huge asset for Tyler's growth in general, especially on the west side of town,” Mullins said.
If all goes as planned, road barriers could come down in August, City Engineer Carter Delleney said.
Signals also are going up and landscaping is going in.
The completed 1.5-mile roadway will create a new connection from South-Southwest Loop 323 to State Highway 155 at Vine Avenue and improves Old Noonday Road from Vine to Glenwood Boulevard.
When completed, the parkway will feature four traffic lanes, two bike lanes, raised landscaped medians and sidewalks.
“On the Master Street Plan, it goes toward Bellwood Lake,” Delleney said.
Interest in the roadway is high, even though it is not yet complete.
The company plans a $15 million capital investment.
As an enticement, Texas’ Enterprise Fund chipped in $1.3 million to help bring the project to fruition and Tyler officials upped the ante with $156,649 in tax abatements.
Centene represents the first large tenant in the new 140-acre Tyler Business & Technology Park, a 150-acre lot being developed south of the new Earl Campbell Parkway and near the Tyler Junior College West Campus.
Mullins called the deal a “major shot in the arm” to jumpstart new growth near the new parkway.
“On the north side of Earl Campbell Parkway, there’s property available for light industrial and distribution.
“We think Earl Campbell will eventually push forward to Bellwood Lake and 31 outside the loop,” Mullins said. “There’s 550 acres there available for development.”
Mullins said Centene was attracted to the south part of the park because of the availability of city biking and walking trails for its employees. The company is already partnering with Tyler Junior College to use part of the west campus for training.
He said the company plans to build a 50,000-square-foot, two-story building for its offices and a 10,000-square-foot building for a day care center for its employees.
Dirt could start flying this month.
In a related road project, officials also are working to complete improvements to Old Noonday Road.
The 1.25-mile section of Old Noonday Road shall remain two lanes, but new curbs, gutters and sidewalks are planned, officials said.
Officials already are looking forward to the next big project.
“We’re starting preliminary design work for Cumberland Road” between Broadway and Old Jacksonville Highway,” Delleney said. “There’s no funding, we’re working on roadway acquisition.”
Mayor Barbara Bass said the completion of Earl Campbell Parkway is a victory for many reasons.
“Not only will it be a new East-West corridor that will enhance our transportation system, but it will also open up that area of town to new development. We are already seeing this manifest with the planned construction by Centene in the area,” the mayor said.
Growth in all four corners of the city was a goal identified several years ago in the Tyler 21 plan that outlines opportunities for growth and development.
“Seeing this come to fruition – and being paid for in cash – is extremely rewarding,” she said.