Signs of the Times
For the past 18 months the park has been besieged by road construction work along its southern and western boundaries. To the west, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) is expanding Farm to Market Road (FM)1847 from a two lane road into a five lane highway linking Brownsville and the community of Los Fresnos. To the south, TXDOT is developing FM 511, which is already four lanes, into a wider, limited-access freeway with frontage roads in either direction.
The result has been significant confusion for visitors trying to reach the park. Long lines of barrels confront drivers trying to find the park visitor center. Occasionally traffic barriers and equipment block the park entrance. The intersection of FM511 and FM 1847 has been closed periodically for construction of overpasses. All of these measures have produced some degree of confusion for park visitors.
The most significant issue has been signs. Several years ago, TXDOT generously assisted the park in placing directional signage on many of the routes leading to Palo Alto Battlefield. Unfortunately, construction activity has lead to the temporary removal or movement of many of those signs. This has added to confusion and disorientation of visitors trying to navigate the maze of changing exits, orange barrels, and heavy machinery. In some cases the signage issue can seem funny. One sign, for example, currently labels a drainage ditch as a bike path. But the park is well aware that the situation creates frustration for visitors and is working to alleviate problems as they arise.
On the bright side, the highway work is drawing to a close. When the project ends, directional signs should return, new lanes will provide safer access to the park, and a hike-bike trail with link the park with other sites in Brownsville. In the short term, however, a difficult road lies ahead.