RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – The concrete barrier wall running the length of Gayman Channel along Bahia Grande on Highway 48 between Brownsville and Port Isabel is coming down.
The wall is being demolished by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in the hope its removal will eliminate the loss of Brown pelicans during strong northerly winds.
After years of study, TxDOT determined that the exterior barrier creates a deadly downdraft during northers, which causes low flying pelicans to crash onto the roadway resulting in the death of hundreds of pelicans struck by vehicles.
Tragically, this deadly scenario, has been unfolding for years as pelicans attempt to reach their roosting site in Bahia Grande which is part of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Boyd Blihovde, manager of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, is one of the volunteers who has helped rescue downed pelicans during these lethal events.
“I am excited they are doing this first step, and hopefully it is enough to solve the problem.” says Blihovde.
A metal railing that will allow wind to flow thru will eventually replace the barrier. However, while the removal of the wall is nearing completion, other concrete barriers have been put in place to protect motorists during construction, and it remains to be seen if these temporary structures will impact pelicans this fall.