Summer Seawall Series: Part One - Marina Arts District in Corpus Christi, TX

Jun 11, 2019


Summer Seawall Series

Part One: Wait…Didn’t We Do This Already?

By: Alexandra Scott

Anyone who has ever done a home improvement project knows that, no matter how much you spruce up the outdoor façade, if the supporting structural pieces aren’t maintained the home will be unlivable. That’s where we are with our seawall.

And I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t they just fix the seawall”? Well yes, and no.

Back in 2006, improvements were done to the beautiful seawall you have come to know and love along the Corpus Christi Bay and marina. This work came in at $43.4 million and was the first project to come out of the dedicated Seawall Fund. This fund was created almost 20 years ago when nearly 70 percent of voters approved a one-eighth sales tax increase. But that portion of the seawall isn’t the current issue.

Did you know there is more to the system than just the seawall?

There are a levee and a floodwall system along the ship channel that contributes a large, but often unseen, piece to our flood protection system. The integrity of this system has, not so recently, come into question. As you can see below, the cracks and overall degradation of these pieces has potentially harmful effects on some of our most loved attractions.

 

For over 50 years, this system along with the prominent bayfront seawall have shielded Corpus Christi and more specifically downtown from the potentially catastrophic events of a major weather event. Now, by some estimates, the probability of levee failure in the next five years is at five percent. In fact, according to the Caller Times, even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described the flood protection system as “minimally acceptable” in a 2018 report.

Some of these vulnerabilities were identified almost ten years ago, but some projects to fix them have been stuck in the pipeline. Luckily, and I say that because we were very lucky, we got a wakeup call with Hurricane Harvey.

Had the storm hit us instead of making landfall 30 miles north, we might be having a very different conversation about downtown, flooding and the seawall.

This isn’t to say everything is all doom and gloom.

A comprehensive feasibility study was ordered by the Type A Board earlier this year to identify what exactly a project like this needs and what to prioritize. This, along with multiple discussions and a productive workshop means we are moving in the right direction.

So what’s next?

There is money in the bank to strengthen the vulnerabilities and fix things like the Watergardens. The question is, where does it go? What is the priority at this stage? Why is there a debate when these things need to be fixed?

Part 2 of our “Seawall Series” will address where exactly this money came from, what these kinds of projects might cost and where the confusion is.