The Zena Rucker Connector, which includes Southlake’s newest roundabout, extends between Matthews Court and Tower Boulevard and has been built to improve mobility between Byron Nelson Parkway and Carroll Avenue.
Named after longtime Southlake resident Zena Rucker, the roadway will include a stainless-steel sculpture, Mockingbird Tree, centered in the roundabout.
But who is Zena Rucker?
Zena, and her late husband, Bill, bought their Southlake property in 1960. Rucker’s home sits on 75 acres of land, a reminder of Southlake’s rural roots, and extends from Southlake Boulevard on the north to Old Union Elementary School on the south, and from Carroll Avenue on the east to Timarron on the west.
“I love where I live. I love my house. I’m either weeding in the yard or reading. I like to watch the airplanes fly above [in and out of DFW Airport],” stated Rucker.
Aviation has been a significant part of Rucker’s life. Her late husband was a pilot, and her two sons are pilots. Rucker worked as a flight attendant for a time before becoming a teacher and then served as the first woman to run a Z-Yamaha motorcycle dealership. Rucker also acquired her pilot’s license and operated a flight school in North Texas.
“There’s an airstrip on my property that has welcomed many planes over the years,” said Rucker, who was a member of the Ninety-Nines, an international organization for female pilots.
A known activist, Rucker has also served on the board of the National Organization for Women (NOW).
Holding fast to memories of the past and simpler times in Southlake, Rucker wants to keep her land intact, but she has parted with a few acres along Southlake Boulevard to build a commercial office building with her granddaughter.
As for Zena Rucker Connector, the road and roundabout are scheduled for completion in April of this year. For project updates, follow Southlake Mobility on Facebook, and visit www.ConnectSouthlake.com.
Construction on the Zena Rucker roundabout is starting soon. At the August 20, City Council Meeting, Council officially signed off on the construction contract. Work is expected to start this fall.
The project will improve mobility between Byron Nelson Parkway and South Carroll Avenue. Motorists will no longer have to go around on Southlake Boulevard to get all the way across on Zena Rucker Road.
“This project has been a long time coming as a part City’s Mobility Master Plan,” said City of Southlake Civil Engineer Brent Anderson. “We’re excited to be at the construction phase of this project and to be resolving a mobility issue in that part of town.”
Not only will vehicles have a shortend pathway from Matthews and Tower, pedestrians will also have new sidewalks to travel on. The new connector will give more access to the Park Village and Shops of Southlake shopping centers.
The project also includes roadway extensions between Matthews Court and Tower Boulevard, and a new roundabout at Zena Rucker and Tower. Once completed the roundabout will be home to the public art piece “Mockingbird Tree.”
Contractors will be onsite within the upcoming weeks to start utility work along Zena Rucker roundabout to install a water line, sanitary sewer line and underground storm drainage lines. Weather permitting; the project should be completed within about nine months.
Learn more about mobility in Southlake by visiting www.ConnectSouthlake.com
Plans are in place to improve mobility between Byron Nelson Parkway and Carroll Avenue. Design for the Zena Rucker Connector east of the Pecan Creek Offices to Tower Boulevard is underway!
Phase I of the project calls for a roundabout with public art and landscaping. City Council recently approved the contract with sculpture and ceramics artist Michael Warrick after he submitted his design concept for the public art display for the roundabout located at Zena Rucker Road and Tower Boulevard.
The Southlake Arts Council reviewed 18 proposals from a variety of applicants and Warrick’s submission, “Mockingbird Tree” was selected.
The concept of this piece celebrates the tree as one of Texas’ natural resources and represents the medical, retail and residential developments surrounding the roundabout. The tree also incorporates three mockingbirds, which is the Texas State bird.
The Arts Council provided the direction of how the artwork should reflect the mission and values of the City as well as how the piece should connect the developments in the area.
This would be the sixth public art installation located at a roundabout within City limits.
Once this portion of the project is complete, Phase II construction on Zena Rucker Road will conclude with water, sewer and storm drainage extensions. Construction for the entire project is estimated to begin late summer 2019 and expected to be completed within six months, weather permitting.
Each year the budget includes a five-year capital improvement program (CIP), delineating construction projects designed to implement Southlake 2030 and Southlake 2035.
These projects ensure that the City will meet demands for water, sewer, roadway, drainage, and parks as Southlake moves toward build-out. Year One of the CIP is called the capital budget and allocates dollars to build the identified projects.
Building & Maintaining Southlake’s Public Works Infrastructure
Public Works construction projects figure prominently in the FY 2019 budget.
Funds for construction of Zena Rucker Connector, North White Chapel Boulevard, SH 114 improvements, Kirkwood Boulevard intersection improvements, and landscaping are included in the budget. So are dollars for water quality projects and water lines along SH 114, Kirkwood, and Westpark Circle.
Drainage improvements on public land near Raven Bend, West Highland Street, Simmons Court, Creekside, Florence Road, Kirkwood Branch at White Chapel, and at the TW King Pump Station are also funded. Finally, the budget includes matching funds for the replacement of the South White Chapel Bridge at Bear Creek, to be financed through the Texas Department of Transportation.
Southlake engineers and inspectors have the responsibility to design, build, and ensure the quality of the infrastructure needed to provide water and sewer services, as well as drainage and roadway facilities for public use. And once these items are constructed, crews take on the responsibility of maintaining them.
With more than 296 miles of water distribution pipes, 208 miles of sewer mains, 211 linear miles of city roadways, and 174 miles of sidewalks/trails, maintenance responsibilities are significant. And these numbers don’t even account for public drainage ways and associated infrastructure like fire hydrants, meters, valves, manholes, and lift stations! The new construction will complement the current infrastructure and makes sure that facilities meet future demand.
What About Parks?
City parks, open space, and recreational amenities for all ages are a top priority. The good news is that special funding makes it possible to implement the park master plan in an ongoing and steady timeline.
Champions Club, the newest part of The Marq Southlake, is set to open in December. This project, funded through a special sales tax overseen by the Community Enhancement and Development Corporation, will be a recreation game-changer for the community beginning in 2019.
The City will also begin designing improvements to the Southlake Sports Complex, including fields, building improvements, shade structures, restrooms, a playground, batting cages, trails, parking, and other amenities. Construction will span a few years, but things get started with the new fiscal year.
The team will also turn attention to Central Park (located at the Shops of Southlake) with an eye to improving the functionality of the space and developing plans for future improvements.
The Southlake Parks Development Corporation will fund these improvements with a special sales tax.
The City owns or leases 1,197.8 acres of park land and open space, and is responsible for the maintenance of the property and the related improvements, including 51 practice fields/game facilities, seven playgrounds, 21 tennis courts, and 14 pavilions.
The CIP paves the way for ongoing infrastructure development, making sure that Southlake continues to be a premier community in which to live, work, and play.