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TU Delft, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv-Infra explore design concepts for Houston flood barrier; the “Ike Dike”

The Delft University of Technology, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv Infra are exploring possible designs for a flood barrier off the coast of Houston to provide coastal defense against hurricanes such as Hurricane Ike. Five years ago, that hurricane caused more than $38 billion in damage and more than 100 deaths in and around Houston and Galveston—third in the list of the costliest hurricanes in US history.

Immediately after Hurricane Ike, Professor Bill Merrell of the Texas A&M University developed and unveiled the “Ike Dike” concept. A key element of the concept is a movable flood barrier that can seal off the bay near Galveston and Houston during a hurricane.

Under normal conditions the bay provides a passage to the Port of Houston, so it must remain accessible for shipping. The Port of Houston is the first-ranked US port in foreign tonnage; second-ranked US port in total tonnage; and 7th-ranked US container port by total TEUs in 2012. It is the 2nd ranked US port in terms of cargo value (based on CBP Customs port definitions). Another matter of great importance is the preservation of the ecosystems in the bay.

The Delft University of Technology, Royal HaskoningDHV and Iv-Infra are currently examining, on behalf of principals in Texas, which types of flood barriers are buildable to protect the Houston/Galveston area optimally against storm surges.

Over the past months the three have worked out some flood defense concepts for closing off the approximately 3-kilometer (1.9-mile) opening and have presented them to Bill Merrell and his team. In terms of their dimensions the barriers are similar to the Maeslant and Eastern Scheldt storm surge barriers in the Netherlands.

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The various concepts were compared with each other in respect of criteria like reliability, makeability, maintainability and life-cycle costs. The three parties will elaborate the preferred variants in greater detail in the coming period. A joint research program will also be set up between the Delft University of Technology and the Texan universities.



Would this be the first US City with movable barrier flood protection, as opposed to permanent levies and dykes?

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