Building a Monument to Gated Flood Control and Tourism

BUILDING A MONUMENT TO GATED FLOOD CONTROL AND TOURISM Protecting the Ship Channel during an Ike-like (or worse) storm surge has led some to propose a big dike, others a big gate. But UH professor of urban planning Tom Colbert doesn’t see why we couldn’t trouble ourselves to make such protection a real sight to see too: “Colbert likes the idea of . . . connecting the Centennial Gate and its levees to the proposed Lone Star National Recreation Area, undeveloped land that would both attract ecotourists and slow floodwaters,” reports the Houston Chronicle’s Lisa Gray: “I remembered one drawing I’d seen in [Colbert’s] PowerPoint show: Happy tourists, paddling kayaks past the Hartman Bridge, on one of the byways out of the big ships’ path, waterbirds and wetlands all around. Colbert motioned southeast, toward the Ship Channel’s mouth, toward Barbours Cut, the other possible location for the floodgate. There, he said, the levees would cross the channel’s water, connecting the Ship Channel’s artificial islands — made from dirt dredged from the channel — to the shore. Enough room could be left on top of the levee for a hiking path or even for car access; for the first time, it would be possible for people to get to the Atkinson Island Wildlife Management Area — a bird mecca on manmade land — without a boat. You could even, he notes, build a tourist destination atop one of those islands: He proposes a monument to Houston, the gateway to North America, the place where nature meets industry. In some drawings, just to give people the idea, he plunks the Statue of Liberty atop a Ship Channel island.” [Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot] Photo of Fred Hartman Bridge: Chuck Wilkson

14 Comment

  • Extremely important for this project (or something similar – Ike Dike) to be built…soon.

  • This construction would do unrepairable damage to the ecosystem and tidal flow in GB – I don’t see the Galveston Bay Foundation or the local shrimp and oyster industry supporting this proposal. If you have a house in the predicted flood zone and don’t like paying the insurance, please move. The rest of us should not have to pick up the tab for a completely ridiculous project. Look at New Orleans – the dikes can’t even be trusted to do their job. There is not only the original investment but fat stacks of money to maintain the structures that will suck additional tax dollars out of people’s pockets, including those that would never be impacted.

  • Isn’t it pretty smelly out there and wouldn’t dirt ‘dredged from the ship channel’ be awfully polluted?

  • “Ike Dike” = Ridiculous pipe dream.

  • The Centinnial Gate concept would not impeed the the fresh water flow in to the Bay and is not designed to protect homes. It designed to protect the pertochemical complex from storm surge. Darby Mom, just wait to see how polluted the entire area becomes after a direct hit, without the gate. Have you been to the mouth of ship channel. It really isn’t smelly at all.

  • There is a reason Atkinson Island is a bird mecca. You can’t get there without a boat. If you connect it to the land, you also connect it to all the predators on land. That would make all the shorebird nests into egg buffets.

  • Seems like industry should pay for this but smells like another corporate welfare project.

  • I agree with Old School. Leave it alone.

  • Doofus – I agree, but there seems to be a mindset among The Haves of “ehhhh…nice (economy, ecosystem, whatever) you gots here. It’d be an awful shame if sumptin’ was to happen to it, y’know, accidental like?? OOPS!!”
    The only solace I draw is that I know there is no Magical Money Fairy, and realize that we’ll end up paying for infrastructure like this one way or another, either at the pump or on our 1040s.

  • Although I’m a big opponent of grandiose public projects, the refineries and oil storage facilities are a strategic national asset and should be protected as such in the grand scheme of things.

  • MAKE the petrochemical industry PAY for this boondoggle,if it ever gets built. An urban planning professor touting this is a pipe dream,unless he is somehow in the pocket of the petrochemical industry(check his “research” funding sources).Any “tourism” component would RUIN the remaining natural elements in the area. There are REASONS why the undeveloped areas out here NEED to stay undeveloped. A bunch of trash & pollution spewing “tourists” will NOT be conducive to this area. People have RUINED our planet.Enough is Enough. @John F : having a “protective” barrier/gate that supposedly would “protect” the petrochemical complex (which covers a huge area of land) would cost BILLIONS.Keep in mind that the majority-if not all of-the INLAND Upper Texas Gulf Coast land is a floating mass of clay/gumbo “soil” that has a subsidence rate of about an inch a year/which is about a foot every decade. Which means the the whole area is SINKING and the ongoing development (which reduces the amount of land that used to absorb water is being reduced) Translated that means MORE flooding.If this ever got built(which in Texas means a long time to even form a consensus/agree on a timetable and determine who PAYS for it) there would probably be several more whopper hurricanes/flood producing weather events. And even then the flooding that WILL occur behind the “protective” barrier(s) could NOT be prevented.There are too many examples of man made barriers that FAILED. Most glaring ,recent example: the dikes in Nawlins were a total ,colossal FAILURE!!! And remember: there were lakes formed inside the dikes.In low lying areas-like Houston-we cannot make Mother Nature’s awesome powers to do what we want. We are powerless!!!

  • ^^ Too long, didn’t read.

  • The best way to preserve the bird sanctuary is keep people the hell away from it.

  • The Ike Dike will be a Texas-sized disaster, but I’m just waiting for those “The United States is broke!” politicians to add that boondoggle to the Corps of Engineers’ budget. Who knows, hidden in the Army’s billions, it might not get noticed.

    The Centennial Gate is small potatoes in comparison, and does the storm surge protection job with much less damage to the Bay and its wetlands. If we can get a hike & bike trail from the San Jacinto Monument to the base of the Fred Hartman Bridge, I’m all for it.

    Then extend the seawall with a ring levee around downtown Galveston, and leave the rest of the holiday-only residents to fend for themselves with unsubsidized insurance, and we’re ready for the next 100 years.