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$31B TX 'Ike Dike' Gets Tentative Nod

Thursday, November 1, 2018

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After a three-year study into ways to protect Texas’ coast from hurricanes and other similar storm surges, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday (Oct. 26) that the 70-mile-long coastal barrier, known as the “Ike Dike,” is the preferred choice for the job.

Plans for the coastal barrier, similar to the one originally proposed by Texas A&M University marine science professor Bill Merrell, were developed in a partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Texas General Land Office. The barrier could cost as much as $31 billion.

Ike Dike

In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush noted that the Texas coast is home to one in four Texans, as well as 30 percent of the American oil refining sector. The Ike Dike barrier would consist of a system of levees and sea gates beginning north of High Island, running along Bolivar Peninsula. The coastal barrier would also wind its way across the entrance of Galveston Bay and run the length of Galveston Island, eventually including the pre-existing seawall, ending at San Luis Pass.

At the bay’s entrance a series of storm surge gates would accommodate navigation to a few ports, namely Galveston’s, Texas City’s and Houston’s. A navigation gate, located along the Houston Ship Channel, would close during storms. Galveston would be protected with a ring levee shielding the rear of the island.  

Other plans for the Ike Dike include beach and dune restoration along the lower Texas coast. Nine ecosystem restoration projects are also in the works to help increase area resilience.

Concerns, Moving Forward

Despite the promise of these plans, there are a number of environmental concerns: namely potential impact on wetlands and tidal change constriction that would determine the salinity of estuaries, which could have a wider environmental impact.

“The United States as a policy has relied on recovery instead of protection. The Europeans typically haven’t, they’ve been much more into protection. And recovery has just gotten too expensive,” Merrell told The Guardian in an interview, going on to note that the “other bad thing about recovery” is that it hits the poor and the elderly the hardest—they don’t necessarily have the means to recover. “So I think we’re going to look more and more to protection.”

Moving forward, a series of public meetings will be held to review the plans for the Ike Dike. The first meeting will be held Nov. 27, in Port Lavaca. The final feasibility report and environmental impact study are slated for 2021, after which Congress could look at funding the endeavor.

   

Tagged categories: Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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