Rebuilding the seawall

This sure seems like a no-brainer to me.

For a century, this vulnerable barrier island’s famed Seawall has protected, comforted, enabled and endured.

But the hopelessly romantic notion that the Seawall could stand tall forever, holding back storm surges while preserving Galveston as a place apart, disappeared with Hurricane Ike.

The September storm threatened the wall by exposing the wooden pilings that support its older sections, state and local officials said.

Ike left so little sand to shield the Seawall’s base that the underpinnings could corrode or wash away, causing the 17-foot-high concrete structure to collapse.

The danger has prompted a multimillion-dollar effort to replenish the beach in front of the Seawall before the next hurricane season.

“We wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars if we weren’t really concerned about the wall,” said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who is responsible for the state’s coastline. “We want it to be there another 100 years.”


Orrin Pilkey, a nationally known coastal geologist at Duke University, said it could take as much as $20 million a mile to create a lasting beach.

“The fundamental problem with a seawall is that it encourages shorelines to retreat,” Pilkey said. “With each storm, it becomes harder and harder to put in a beach that will stay there.”

Patterson, the state’s land commissioner, said the latest beach-rebuilding project is large enough to protect the Seawall for at least a decade.

“The bigger the renourishment project,” Patterson said, “the longer it will last.”

Hey, make it as big as you want. The stronger we can make the Seawall, and the longer we can go without having to do this again, the better. The task will serve as a bit of economic stimulus for the Island, which makes it that much more important. And though there was no mention of funding concerns in the story, this would be an excellent use of the Rainy Day Fund if need be; the amount in question is a drop in the bucket compared to the RDF’s bottom line. Let’s hope this is something we can all agree on and get done as effectively and expeditiously as possible.

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One Response to Rebuilding the seawall

  1. The seawall isn;t enough to keep Galveston from flooding, though; it protects against the Gulf of Mexico but not Galveston Bay. That helps against big storm waves but not storm surge. In Ike,the seawall held but Galveston flooded from the back, around the Strand.

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