Meanwhile, aesthetics are also important here, including along main transportation corridors. This will only improve with a current State Highway 66 Beautification Project to landscape all medians along the entire SH66 corridor.
To pay for the large project, Rowlett in 2014 won a $250,000 Governor’s Community Achievement Award from the Texas Department of Transportation to beautify a state highway within the city. However, Rowlett officials also learned of a TxDOT Green Ribbon program to provide more than $2 million in additional funding to Rowlett for the project.
“Green Ribbon started in the mid-1990s but has been used very little, even though the Texas legislature puts millions of dollars into it every year,” says Martha Brown, executive director of Keep Rowlett Beautiful. “Not many people know about the Green Ribbon fund, but we thankfully heard of it from Stephen Copley, a project manager and landscape architect with TxDOT. Now, having more than $2.2 million to spend on SH66 was amazing.”
After more than two years of planning and state approvals, the SH66 beautification was finally launched in 2017.
“The landscape design was coordinated between our city council, parks department, street department, planners, Keep Rowlett Beautiful and many others, with the decision to have native plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers along the entire stretch of Highway 66 rather than grass,” Brown says. “TxDOT has also repaired curbs, improved power hookups and installed a modern irrigation system. In fact, our parks department will be able to monitor moisture levels on every median from their offices.”
Besides planting selections along the corridor such as autumn sage, Texas redbuds, crape myrtles and high rise live oaks, other improvements include entrance monuments at each end of SH66, with the name “ROWLETT” designated on one side. The entire beautification project is scheduled for completion in late 2018.
“The TxDOT contractor will maintain the entire stretch for the first year to make sure all the plants get established, then our parks department takes over from there,” Brown says. “I drive up and down State Highway 66 every day to get to my office, and it’s been a joy to see it all come together.”