Rice Study Wishlist: Houston Ship Channel Watergate, Galveston Bay Levees, 130-Mile Recreation Zone Along Coast

What could possibly have been worse than Hurricane Ike? Super Ike, a stronger hurricane aimed 30 miles further west, causing a larger storm surge, more deaths, and significantly greater damage to Houston’s industrial infrastructure. To protect against that hypothetical $100 billion threat, a Rice University team is recommending some bolstered defenses for the region. Included among the suggestions: a “moveable gate structure” just upstream from Baytown’s Fred Hartman Bridge, to block the Ship Channel and San Jacinto River from rising waters in Galveston Bay (pictured above); elevating Hwy. 146 along the west edge of Galveston Bay so that it forms a levee protecting much of La Marque, Dickinson, League City, Clear Lake, and La Porte; a “baywall” to protect Galveston Island’s backside from sneaky storm surge waters; and preserving a 130-mile-long stretch of existing coastal wetlands between High Island and Matagorda as a recreation area and when-needed storm barrier.


Here’s what that levee along Hwy. 146 might look like:

And one alignment option for the bay-side levee to protect Galveston Island:

A map showing the recreation study area:

The study’s principal investigators, hydrologist Philip Bedient and attorney Jim Blackburn, were both part of the environmental team that planned The Woodlands 4 decades ago.

Images and video: Rice University

7 Comment

  • Are those ferries that would be planned between Smith Point and Kemah or San Leon?

    And then there’s Galveston, and a levy that would ruin the appeal of the downtown waterfront. I’d prefer that a levy be on the Pelican Island side, connected to Galveston by “movable gate structures”.

  • Nice pipe dreams.

  • Ouch…sounds spensive.

  • When will people learn that they cannot control nature?

  • People are nature.

  • so, the Rice Ike Dike proposal sacrifices everything East of hwy 146, from Seabrook, Kemah, Bayview, Bacliff, and San Leon shorelines. all these communities would be washed away due to a brick wall as backstop to them, just to protect the developers west of hwy 146. really?

  • This rise plan makes to sence. The Texas A&M plan would help to secure the region (truley secure). While the Rice plan calls for a “patchwork” of protective barriers, The Texas A&M plans for extending the sea wall to block the storm serge from flooding the entire region.