Friday, June 19, 2009

WSJ on the Ike Dike

A crazy week, so just another pass-along article from the Wall Street Journal on the proposed 60-mile long, 17-feet high, "Ike Dike" defense around Galveston and Bolivar. Estimated price tag is $2 to $4 billion, which is a bargain compared to the surge damage from even one hurricane. Some key excerpts:

Dike supporters argue that the project has implications far beyond Texas. The area is home to three of the country's 10 largest oil refineries, 40% of its chemical manufacturing capacity and the country's second largest seaport, handling some 600,000 tons of cargo a day.

"It's a national-security issue," said Bob Mitchell, president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, a local business group.

Potential funding sources: Army Corp of Engineers and federal highway funds (set back from the beach).

Estimated completion time: a decade+
Bill Merrell, the Texas A&M University at Galveston professor who first proposed the Ike Dike, said he based the structure on existing designs, including swinging floodgates built in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in the 1990s. London has had closeable floodgates on the Thames since 1982, and the Russian city of St. Petersburg is nearing completion of its own massive gates.

"All the technology's proven. We're not asking for a miracle," Mr. Merrell said.

Dike supporters find inspiration in past disasters. After an unnamed 1900 hurricane nearly wiped Galveston off the map, island residents built a 15-plus-foot seawall along the island's east end, then raised the island itself by as much as 17 feet, jacking up more than 2,000 buildings and filling in underneath them with sand.

Compared with that project, Mr. Merrell said, the Ike Dike looks trivial -- at least from an engineering standpoint. But the perception that the project is too difficult could be hard to overcome. Mr. King, the former Kemah mayor, said he initially thought the idea was too far-fetched. But he said the simplicity of Mr. Merrell's plan, combined with the cost of leaving the coast unprotected, won him over.

"The elegance and the appeal of something like the Ike Dike is, with one swath, all the problems are solved," Mr. King said.

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At 3:39 PM, June 19, 2009, Blogger dmarks said...

Sounds like a good idea. Much better than the "cash for clunkers" thing Congress is pushing.

At 12:23 PM, June 24, 2009, Anonymous kjb434 said...

Nothing necessarily innovative here.

Netherlands uses this kind of system.

Lafourche Parish in Louisiana has the same type of system. If New Orleans had what Lafourche had, it wouldn't have flooded. The link below is from Google Maps showing the Lafourche levee/dyke system. It's 17-feet high and uses locks and pumps. It was tested for Katrina, Rita, and Ike and stop any surge from flooding the protected land. It also worked back in 1992 for Hurricane Andrew.


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