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Scaled-down Ike Dike could help several coastal communities - The Galveston County Daily News: Guest Columns

July 25, 2016

Scaled-down Ike Dike could help several coastal communities

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Posted: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 12:15 am

If the Ike Dike washes away because of cost, you may check the merits of this dike and bridge plan. 

The first thing to look at is cost versus benefit ratio. This plan benefits Galveston, Tiki Island, Bayou Vista, Pelican Island, Bolivar and Texas City. It will protect all of Pelican Island and greatly reduce the cost of future development by reducing fill requirements and providing three more access points.

Texas City needs a flow of traffic to the east side of town to benefit the recently developed 6th Street. Raising the Texas City Dike will give storm protection to the back side of Galveston. With this plan, there is no problem of dike right-of-way conflicting with existing housing developments on Bolivar and Galveston’s West End.

Storm circulation is hard to predict. Hurricane Ike’s path was different from Hurricanes Carla in 1961 and Alicia in 1983. They traveled from southeast to northwest. Ike traveled southwest to northeast. First, it filled Galveston Bay to great height and then the back side of the storm blew water out with such force — it covered Galveston Island.

Hurricane Rita hit east of Galveston. Galveston Bay was only subject to the back side of the storm, and it blew water out of the bay, causing a minus tide level of at least five feet. With this plan blocking the east end of West Bay, normal storm circulation will push water out of San Luis Pass. The industries of Texas City and the residences of La Marque are protected by the levee placed in the 1970s.

This plan calls for a bridge to Bolivar, a length of 10,000 linear feet, of which half could be on piling and half a suspension bridge like that which serves Baytown. It calls for 47,000 linear feet of dike on land to allow development of Galveston’s east end and 2,000 acres on Pelican Island.

It will give protection to the industries and university on the island and to the city of Galveston. The plan calls for closures with bridges on the Texas City (5,000 linear feet) and Galveston channels (3,500 linear feet). The total length of the seawall part of the project is approximately 10 miles, and the cost is under $1 billion. There should not be any costs for right of way.

Galveston Bay is so large that even with a gate at Bolivar Roads, considerable wave action will still be generated along the western shore. There is an existing problem of tidal surge on Dickinson Bayou that has caused financial loss as far west as the Gulf Freeway.