Bayside Drive to Begin Construction

Local News

A wildlife attraction is in the process of making a comeback…

Efforts are underway to improve Bayside Drive at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

The drive closed in 2013 after the death of endangered ocelots.

Now the refuge has a plan to make the route safe for the ocelots and safe for tourists.

Construction is expected after August 17 at Bayside Drive. Visitors could tour the protected wildlife refuge at their own pace in their own vehicles prior to 2013. It remains open to bicyclist and hikers today but closed to vehicles. This makes touring difficult for wildlife enthusiast with disabilities or limited mobility…

“For some people that’s the only way to go,” says refuge manager Boyd Blihovde, “Some people can’t get out and bike. They can’t go on hikes that long of a distance.”

Bayside Drive was one of the park’s largest attractions. There has been an estimated 34 percent less visitors since Bayside Drive closed in November of 2013. The decision to close the attraction came after vehicle accidents involving the endangered ocelot.

“That was one of our main concerns. With this reconstruction there’s going to be wildlife crossings, so the ocelots can go under the road.” Says Blihovde.  

Some of the main changes include a plan close off the loop, opting for wider roads that would allow two-way traffic.

“It’s going to make it roughly 12 mile 2 way road that goes out to Laguna Madre and then back the same way,” states Blihovde.    

Bayside Drive will be closed to all visitors beginning August 17.

Completion is expected in early 2019.

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