An alternative to the Ike Dike

A scaled down plan can protect coastal communities and cost less than the proposed and oft-fought over Ike Dike. 


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.

Guest Column

S.A. Duitscher has been a professional engineer for more than 50 years. He lives in Dickinson.

(6) comments


Let's have all the people pay to protect international corporations ...

Gary Miller


Protecting international corporations is protecting the peoples jobs.


Excellent idea! This could actually be paid for by some of the major projects it will protect. Galveston is building a mega-port on Pelican Island, and so is Texas City. I recall reading about a $2 billion proposal for a rail line coming from the Texas City industrial area, crossing the proposed Texas City mega-port next to the Texas City dike, and going to the proposed Galveston mega-port on Pelican Island. If the county, or state, could split the cost with them and the proposed Galveston East-end housing development, this is a no-brainer. Any studies that would need to be completed should be short and sweet, and there should be no right-of-way issues. This is a win-win for everyone. Everyone will save money, from the industries that need the rail lines, surge protection for Galvestion County, and the need for another evacuation route for Galveston and Bolivar. Go for it!

Gary Miller

I fail to see how a 17 ft. IKE DIKE could benifit Texas City or LaMarque which already have a 23 Ft storm levee.
It was announced after IKE plans were being considered to raise the TC-LM levee to 29 ft. because IKE came within a few ft. of topping it's 23 ft. elivation.
How can anyone think a 17 Ft. IKE DIKE can protect from anything bigger than a Cat 1 hurricane.
23 FT. would seem to the minimum for a Cat 2 (IKE) or Cat 3 (KATRINA) storm.
Furthermore what protection for anything would a bridge across the Bolivar Rhodes provide?

Steve Fouga

IHOG, I think the Bolivar bridge might be to provide another reliable evac route.

As for the height the dike would need to be, I'm unqualified to comment. I'm sure this would be studied in more depth before committing to construction. But my main comment is hooray that someone is thinking about a plan to compete with the Ike Dike which may be too expensive, yet would provide more protection than doing nothing.

I would love to see an impartial cost-benefit evaluation of 5 plans, ranging from doing nothing (on the low end) to building the full-up Ike Dike (on the high end).

Marine One

Wow. And after the 1900 storm, they got together and built the dam seawall. I bet there wasn't a bunch of bickering and moaning from anybody. Oh wait, that's because they were all dead or drowned or never found again...
Stop whining and build it. Your grandkids will be amazed at your intelligence and vision about their future safety, just like our ancestors were concerned with ours.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.