Why Texas's $29 Billion Coastal Protection Plan Is Needed

The Houston Chronicle editorial board argues for the construction of the so-called 'Ike Dike,' but warns that more investment is needed to protect the South Texas coast from future storms.

2 minute read

September 24, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of Houston Ship Channel with container ships

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Houston Ship Channel Barbours Cut

If a major hurricane hits Houston, the predictions go, it could trigger a series of disastrous effects that would wreak havoc on the city and its infrastructure. After Hurricane Ike devastated the region in 2008, writes the Houston Chronicle's editorial board, "there was a collective epiphany." Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a plan to protect the Texas coast from future damage. The $29 billion plan, dubbed the Ike Dike, "includes projects up and down the Texas Gulf Coast, but the bulk of the work will be south of Houston. A series of gates designed to protect against a surge of up to 22 feet would stretch from the east end of Galveston Island across the mouth of Galveston Bay to Bolivar Peninsula. Other coastal protections include 43 miles of 14- and 12-foot dunes on Galveston’s west end and on the peninsula. Gates are also planned on the western bank of Galveston Bay for Clear Lake and Dickinson Bayou."

Yet according to the Corps' own calculations, the project would only withstand a Category 3 storm surge. "Given the limitations of the current plan, and the questions still lingering, it’s time for our political leaders championing this project to acknowledge that the Ike Dike alone is not enough. It is surely not the panacea that many, including this editorial board, hoped it would be." 

However, the board writes, the project is still worth it. "Our congressional leaders should vote to fund the project with the understanding that we will likely need even more than the $29 billion Ike Dike to build out other defenses." The board concludes that, while the project should be completed, "[b]uilding the Ike Dike cannot become an excuse for complacency, nor can it be a one-time alignment of stars where all the levels of government unite behind a common goal."

Sunday, September 19, 2021 in Houston Chronicle

Large blank mall building with only two cars in large parking lot.

Pennsylvania Mall Conversion Bill Passes House

If passed, the bill would promote the adaptive reuse of defunct commercial buildings.

April 18, 2024 - Central Penn Business Journal

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Wood-frame two-story rowhouses under construction.

Fair Housing Cannot Take a Back Seat to ‘Build, Baby, Build’

If we overlook fair housing principles in the plan to build US housing back better, we risk ending up right back where we started.

April 11, 2024 - James Jennings

Close-up of row of slot machines in dark casino.

New York Casinos Gain Zoning Change Approval

The new process will let casino projects avoid undergoing a separate land use review in certain circumstances.

55 minutes ago - The Real Deal

High view of woman walking in parking lot with red and white cars visible at left.

Non-Roadway Traffic Deaths On the Rise

A growing number of traffic deaths occur in driveways, parking lots, and other non-roadway spaces.

1 hour ago - Streetsblog USA

Purple jacaranda trees in bloom in Los Angeles with tall white Art Deco buildings in background.

LA County Releases Draft Community Forest Management Plan

LA County's Chief Sustainability Office just released the discussion draft of Room to Grow, the first Community Forest Management Plan for the county.

April 21 - Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.