The Galveston Bay Park Plan entails the design of a set of barrier islands for storm surge protection and for the study and preservation of the area’s oyster habitat.
The GBPP is the companion project to the “infamous” Ike Dike, Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin said at the meeting. The Ike Dike is part of a larger coastal spine project.
The SSPEED Center’s study will assess costs of items in the plan and the environmental concerns for the oyster reefs in the area. The city of Houston, the Harris County Flood Control District and the Port of Houston Authority have each contributed $250,000; Rice will contribute the remaining $250,000 for the $1 million project.
The GBPP will use the spoils of existing and continued dredging in the ship channel to create the barrier island not only for coastal protection, but also for the creation of almost 10,000 acres of public land space, according to a brochure for the plan.
The construction of the GBPP would cost between $4 billion to $6 billion, and completion is expected sometime between 2027-30, per the SSPEED Center.
In addition to the work for the coastal spine, the project builds off of the existing Galveston Seawall; it will involve the building of gates and levees and the raising of roadways, such as Hwy. 87 and FM 3005. The project also involves the construction of berms—ridges in the beach parallel to the shore—and the protection of oyster reefs.
The plan will allow for the Houston Ship Channel to be widened from 700 feet to 900 feet and provides 25 feet of storm surge protection for the western shoreline of Galveston Bay.
The announcement for the GBPP also comes after that of Beamer Ditch, which is part of the Clear Creek Federal Flood Risk Management Project.
Designs for the park space include bike trails, fishing, camping and event spaces. The project is a culmination of over a decade of planning, Council Member David Robinson said at the meeting.
“This has been a long time coming,” Robinson said. “It is critical for our existence on the southern coast.”