Coastal Barrier Google Map

An online map produced by a group of environmental groups shows a proposed alignment for a coastal barrier on Galveston Island. The groups produced the maps using records obtained through an open records request to show where properties will be left unprotected by the barrier.

The inevitable devils, potential ones anyway, have begun to emerge in the details about how the federal government might route a massive storm-surge barrier — the coastal spine or Ike Dike — along Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island and areas along Galveston Bay.

While there is definitely something for everybody to love in the general idea of preventing storm surge like happened during Hurricane Ike, there’s plenty for people to hate about an alignment proposed in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ preferred plan.

It’s important to note that a lot of what people think they know about the alignment doesn’t come directly from the corps, but from maps several environmental groups created using data mined from corps documents.

The maps could be completely wrong, but corps officials have not disputed what they show. Instead, they have said the alignment, defined with a red line on the maps, is initial and subject to change.

That’s a valid point, but it’s equally valid to note that “might change” is not the same as “will change.”

It’s also true, as best as our reporters have determined, that the alignment displayed on the maps is the alignment the corps used in the scientific modeling that determined whether any sort of barrier was feasible, which would be the preferred of several alternative plans and roughly how much the preferred plan would cost.

That seems less tentative than corps officials claim.

Meanwhile, the red line on the maps doesn’t look all that general and tentative. It’s not a straight, arbitrary line that says “generally here.” It zigs and zags precisely. It looks definitive.

Among the things the red line says is that property owners on Galveston’s West End won’t get the parklike, man-made dune between their homes and Gulf of Mexico they had wanted. On the maps, the barrier mostly follows the FM 3005 right of way.

That alignment would leave virtually all beach-side property — houses in Sunny Beach, Pirates Beach, Bermuda Beach, Hershey Beach and all the rest — in front of the barrier.

That should come as no surprise. Corps officials have said from the beginning the only cost-effective path for a West End barrier would be generally along or under FM 3005.

Many people on Bolivar Peninsula, where the red line runs along the north side of state Highway 87, would be in the same situation — the Gulf in their faces and some sort of barrier at their backs.

Corps officials might be right in saying it’s too soon to know exactly where the barriers would run. The rub, however, is that the planned public meetings about the barrier project all will be next week. By the time the corps fesses up about, or changes, the red lines those meetings will have passed.

The only thing to do is to take those red lines as the Gospel and get worked up now if there’s anything about them that works you up.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

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(7) comments

Rusty Schroeder

This project will ruin what's left of Galveston's natural beauty on the West End. Not to mention what Offatt's Bayou and the seawall will look like. I hope this project will go away and no more money will be spent on studies and maps. Galveston is an Island, we get hurricanes and always have and always will. Does anyone see Florida building a levee wall along the gulf coast? People need to wake up and figure out this is not good for Galveston, unless looking at a wall of dirt and a steel gate through the bay is the definition of good.

Curtiss Brown

Whatever happens, there will be pain getting there. It really does not matter to those folks north of us, who will be the true beneficiaries, how it plays out on the coast. But get there we must. This right-of-way, no matter how it is carved, pulled, yanked or dragged out of coast, is vital to our future.

Rusty Schroeder

Curtiss tell me how Santa Fe and Hitchcock are going to benefit when they get the overflow from San Luis Pass across West Bay. Texas City and La Marque will benefit, but they already have a levee and TC has pumps. I just got back from Charleston, their future and present are real, they aren't building a Dike around the city. You are right, whatever happens, it will be a pain getting there.

Jose' Boix

Perhaps it is time to have Dr. William J. Merrell, TAMUG. The Ike Dike project was conceived by Professor Bill Merrell in response to the extensive surge damage caused by Hurricane Ike in September of 2008. The Ike Dike is a coastal barrier that, when completed, would protect the Houston-Galveston region including Galveston Bay from hurricane storm surge. It is interesting that seemingly we have not heard from him as the "Father of the Ike Dike."

Brian Tamney

This was a foolish quest after Ike, and to even consider it after Harvey should be criminal

Dalton Logan

That water is going somewhere. Will this cause our neighboring communities to suffer worse flooding with the dike then without?

Carol Dean

Everyone needs to be aware of who will be profiting from this endeavor or maybe who is already profiting from paid lobbiests. I've been told that Randy Weber claims that EVERYONE he talks to is in favor of this move. I hope he will be at the Galveston event and prove "hearsay" wrong.

This is all part of the original Agenda 21 Plan of using eminent domain to seize our properties. Ken Clark was always against Agenda 21 until "he wasn't". "Oh, the webs of deceit that are so easily weaved"!

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