Ike Dike could protect Texas coast along Gulf of Mexico while boosting economy, study claims

illustration: man and woman look out over a small lake surrounded by trees, with birds flying overhead

Illustration: College of Architecture

A proposed dike designed to protect Galveston and Houston from storm surges could also provide an economic and social boon, researchers say.

Funded by Texas A&M University’s Institute for Sustainable Coastal Communities, the new study supports the construction of massive dunes along Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, with two giant flood gates at opposite ends of the island — one at San Luis Pass and another in the channel between the island and the peninsula.

According to the study by Galen Newman and Eric Bardenhagen, who are assistant professors in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, the so-called “Ike Dike” would include:

* Ponds behind the dunes that would attract wildlife and absorb storm surge.

* Retail spaces, such as cafes and beach equipment rental businesses, between the beach and the dunes.

* Green spaces with bicycle and pedestrian lanes atop the dunes.

* Native plantings to protect the stability of the dunes.

Conceived by Bill Merrell, holder of the George P. Mitchell Chair of Marine Sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston, the dike would respond to extensive surge damage from 2008’s Hurricane Ike.

Merrell believes the Ike Dike can be built with technology used in the Delta Works project, a series of barriers and gates used to protect low-lying areas in The Netherlands.

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