Following years of research, studies and public debate, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — in partnership with the state’s General Land Office — has recommended a multi-billion-dollar project that would protect the Houston area and its massive industrial complex from hurricane storm surge.
The agencies had narrowed it down to four plans — one of them with an alternate variation — with varying configurations of levees, seawalls and locks. They also identified extensive “non-structural improvements” — such as beach renourishment and dune restoration — for much of the Texas coast.
On Friday, they announced the selection of a plan that is most similar to a controversial proposal unveiled years ago by researchers at Texas A&M University at Galveston — initially dubbed the “Ike Dike” but often referred to now as the “coastal spine” — that was inspired by a Dutch flood protection system.
The sweeping plan calls for the construction of a levee along Galveston Island and the peninsula to its north, Bolivar, as well as the installation of a gate between the two isles to keep storm surge from pouring between them into Galveston Bay and the Port of Houston. It also includes improvements to Galveston’s existing seawall and a “ring levee” around the heart of the city. Such a structure would protect the backside of the most densely populated area from surge and flood waters retreating to the Gulf of Mexico following a storm.