But it's the small details, things like a super efficient irrigation system, drought-tolerant landscaping and plenty of trees that add benefit to the project, officials said.
Extra project amenities aren't accidental, but the result of careful planning that unfolded over years not months, City Engineer Carter Delleney said.
“This will be a much needed east-west connection for that section and the internal part of town,” Delleney said, calling it a “fantastic” boost for motorist mobility.
A ribbon cutting is set for 10 a.m. today at Bennett Avenue and Earl Campbell Parkway, near the area officials expect will soon be a hub for business, education and recreation.
Roadway funding came from half-cent sales tax revenue, records show.
Officials said the project has been years in the works, starting in 2005 when the Tyler City Council approved the go-ahead for design work on the new road, called then by a different name.
“At that time, it was West Eighth Street extension. Then it was called North Sunnybrook, and then, as an honor to Mr. Campbell, it was renamed Earl Campbell Parkway,” Delleney said.
He likened the impact of the new parkway to that of Grande Boulevard, which helps motorists in south Tyler avoid congestion on Broadway Avenue.
The new four-lane Earl Campbell Parkway connects Texas Highway 155 to West Loop 323 and features two bike lanes, raised landscaped medians and sidewalks.
The completed project consists of about 86,000 square miles of pavement, enough to cover about 13 football fields, plus more than nine miles of curbs and 11 miles of striping, records show.
Within the 9,400 linear feet of roadway there are more than 840 roses, planted as a salute to Tyler's reputation as the Rose Capital of America.
Officials with Adams Engineering and Development Consultants, hired to oversee the project, said they are pleased with the overall project results.
“It was a nice project that was pretty involved,” Project Engineer Steve Bennett said. “We need more east-west thoroughfares for people to get around.”
A number of changes were made between start and finish, he said.
The preliminary route for the road ultimately needed some adjustments to accommodate business and rail activities, but those and other changes were handled as opportunities to provide benefit to the area, Bennett said.
Rights of way were expanded in some areas, while infrastructure was improved in others, officials said.
“For a lot of homes, there was only a 2-inch water line,” Bennett said. “There were also major commercial businesses that were not on city sewers.”
Consequently, undersized water lines were replaced with larger ones and businesses that relied on sewer systems were given regular utilities.
A lift station also was added to ensure proper movement of wastewater and sewage, he added.
Adams engineer Sarai R. Akin, who oversaw landscaping development, predicts the efforts will pay off in the long run.
She said the project is designed to reduce potable water consumption by 49 percent.
The high efficiency irrigation system has “smart controls” that adapt to weather-related evaporation, shut down in freezing rain and distribute water at levels that encourage soil infiltration, records show.
“Water-efficient landscaping helps conserve local and regional water supplies, and it can be said the city of Tyler is doing their part to reduce water consumption, starting with the Earl Campbell Parkway installation,” Ms. Akin said.
City officials said these efforts are only the start of more significant projects in the works, including the anticipated 2014 start of the Cumberland Road extension.
“We're encouraging economic development through the building of infrastructure,” Delleney said.