Gulf of Mexico

Coastal Barrier

The Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a risky, and potentially ecologically dangerous coastal barrier system to address storm surge from the Gulf. The current proposal focuses on massive surge gates to provide protection – but at what cost?

Our coast is increasingly vulnerable to storm surges. For years, proposed large-scale, costly infrastructure projects around, along, and between Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula have been touted as solutions. They’ve gone by names like the “Ike Dike,” the “Coastal Spine,” and the “Mid-Bay Alternative”.

In October 2018, the Army Corps settled on its preferred alternative in its Coastal Texas Study: the Coastal Barrier system. This storm surge system includes a series of gates that will stretch the two-mile length of Bolivar Roads, twin sand dunes (12 and 14-foot high), and an expansion of the beach 250 ft gulfward across most of the shoreline on Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island.  The design also includes a ring barrier around the eastern portion of Galveston Island to address bayside flooding, and investments in ecosystem restoration.  The total cost of the Coastal Barrier now totals between approximately $14 and 18 billion.

Since its inception, serious concerns have been raised regarding the environmental risks to the health of Galveston Bay and the exorbitant cost for inadequate protection to our coastal and inland communities and industries, should the surge barrier be built. As the second most ecologically productive estuary in the United States, environmental harm to the Galveston Bay ecosystem will undoubtedly result in economic losses for our region. Current modeling from the Army Corps shows the 2-mile long gates structures will reduce the natural flow of water between Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Reduced flows can restrict movement of marine species, as well as drastically change salinity and circulation within Galveston Bay.

Currently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comment on its second Draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement that will propose a solution that will cost billions of dollars – but which will significantly change the nature of Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula –  while continuing to leave many communities unprotected from future storms. The public will have 45 days to comment – ending on December 14, 2020.

Drawing on our science, policy, and legal expertise, Bayou City Waterkeeper stands ready to push the Army Corps to adopt nature-based solutions that will protect what our communities hold most dear: our homes, our ecosystems that provide bountiful seafood to our families and the nation, and our beautiful beaches. The Army Corps must adopt solutions that will allow us to live on the coast in sustainable, thriving communities for generations to come.

Explore the Footprint

View our interactive map that shows where the footprint of the coastal spine will be placed based on GIS files obtained through a request to the Army Corps of Engineers.