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

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Empty parking garage at night with yellow lines marking spots and fluorescent lighting

Rethinking the Role of Parking in the American City

In cities big and small, the tide is turning against sprawling parking lots, car-centric development, and minimum parking mandates.

March 16, 2023 - The New York Times

A futuristic version of New York City, with plants growing neatly on top of modern skycrapers.

Friday Eye Candy: 20 AI-Generated Cityscapes

AI-generated images are creating new landscapes and cityscapes, capable of inspiring awe or fear.

March 17, 2023 - Chris Steins via Medium

"For Rent" sign in yard of red building

Rent Increases Highest for Lowest-Income Households

Renters at the lower end of the spectrum see no relief in sight as rent hikes remain stubbornly high.

1 hour ago - Marketplace

Rendering of Baylor Scott & White Health Administrative Center in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

A Dallas Architect Designs Statement Buildings With a Purpose

The Dallas Morning News’ architecture critic profiles one of the city’s most important current architects.

3 hours ago - The Dallas Morning News

A mountain range at sunset appears in the background of this photo, with cacti in the foreground.

Biden Designates a New National Monument in West Texas

The Castner Range National Monument in West Texas is the second of two new national monuments announced by President Joe Biden this week.

5 hours ago - The White House

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

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.