Corps says the 70-mile coastal spine project is preferred choice for protecting coastline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday after three years of study that the so-called "Ike Dike," a coastal barrier stretching 70 miles at a projected cost of $31 billion, is the preferred choice for protecting the Texas coastline from future storm surges.  The proposed dike has been referred to as a "coastal spine" that would protect the Galveston Bay area, Galveston and Bolivar.

The plan for the barrier was developed in a partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office. The proposal is similar to the original "Ike Dike" proposal made by researchers at Texas A&M University in Galveston in 2008, after Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast.

"Texas' coast is home to one in every four Texans and 30 percent of the American oil refining sector resides here," Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said in a written statement reported by the Houston Chronicle. "The Coastal Texas Study is about protecting our people, our economy and our national security. The options selected are proven to be effective in mitigating the deadly effects of storm surge on our state."

The plan will include a system of levees and sea gates beginning north of High Island and running the length of Bolivar Peninsula before crossing the entrance of Galveston Bay.  It would incorporate the existing Galveston seawall, run the length of Galveston Island and end at San Luis Pass.

A system of storm surge gates would accommodate the ports of Galveston, Texas City and Houston with a large navigation gate along the Houston Ship Channel.  These gates are modeled after similar ones on the coast of the Netherlands and on the River Thames in London, and would only close during storm events.

The plan includes a "ring levee" to protect the backside of Galveston, which is densely populated, as well as other barriers to protect bayous and creeks. It also includes beach and dune restoration, and nine ecosystem restoration projects.  The final feasibility report and environmental impact study is expected in 2021, when it will be sent to Congress to consider funding for the project.

Read the full story at the Houston Chronicle.

Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Houston Chronicle

October 29, 2018

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