In early July, 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they would fund nearly $5 billion for disaster recovery projects throughout Texas, focused mainly on the southeast where Hurricane Harvey did the most damage. The bulk of the funds, almost $4 billion, will go toward improving existing levees and constructing additional coastal levees among other projects between Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay. Additionally, the Corps has allocated nearly $16 million toward studies and assessments to better gauge future flood mitigation projects throughout the State.
In 2015, the USACE released a draft Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Study for Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay. The study covers coastal storm risk reduction and ecosystem restoration for the Bay area and lists numerous measures that will help protect the coastal region from storm surge and flood damage. The final draft of this study is set to be released by fall of 2018. The “Ike Dike,” which is probably the most well known of the proposed coastal protection systems, is detailed within this study as the USACE is working to determine the best option for the area.
The Ike Dike was developed by Dr. William Merrell, Head of Marine Sciences for Texas A&M University at Galveston, who was motivated by the devastation of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and inspired by the innovative flood control mitigation tactics used in the Netherlands. Dr. Merrell proposed Ike Dike as a preventative measure to help protect the Houston-Galveston region. The estimated cost of the Ike Dike is more than $12 billion.
The Ike Dike is a coastal barrier, or spine, designed to stop storm surges at the coastline. The spine would be an extension of the already existing seawall along the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. Floodgates would also be installed across Bolivar Roads Channel to protect the entrance to the Houston, Texas City, and Galveston ship channels. Under normal conditions, the gates would remain open and allow regular circulation into the bay. However, under the threat of a hurricane, the gates are designed to close quickly to provide a 17-foot protective barrier.
The Corps have not yet approved a design for the Ike Dike. They have, however, allocated funds for the continued study of a coastal spine barrier, which is expected to be complete by spring of 2021.
The funding from the Corps brings back into focus the urgent need for flood mitigation measures in South Texas. For nearly 10 years there has been ample conversation concerning flooding and storm surges, but not much action regarding tangible preventative measures.
Our team will stay apprised of the upcoming projects by the Corps along with anything brought to light by the approaching Harris County bond election. Both measures are highly important as they may bring about change to the Houston-Galveston area regarding flood mitigation.
Contact us if you would like to Speak to an Engineer about the projects associated with the federal funding or if you have questions regarding the bond election. Subscribe to our monthly post summary to receive updates. If you would like general J|C information, follow us on LinkedIn.