Rice SSPEED Students Tour New Orleans
Members of the SSPEED Team from Rice University met Dr. Barry Keim, Richard J. Russell Professor and Louisiana State Climatologist from Louisiana State University, for a tour in early December 2015. Dr. Keim took the SSPEED Team on an extensive day-long tour of the post-Hurricane Katrina flood gate improvements throughout Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes. The SSPEED Team was shown the locations of the major levee breaches that occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina, as well as the massive rebuilding effort of levees and the installation of pumping stations and floodgates undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 2005.
One of the most valuable portions of the trip was the visit to the New Orleans Surge Gate structure spanning the Mississippi River. This surge gate was of particular interest to the SSPEED Team as it spans a similar distance and serves a related purpose to the proposed Mid-Bay Gate option, a key concept within the H-GAPS strategies. The SSPEED Team observed that the surge gate in New Orleans contained only navigation gates rather a combination of navigation gates and environmental gates. An important discussion that has occurred at the SSPEED Center is the need for both navigation gates as well as environmental gates in order to limit the environmental impacts to Galveston Bay.
This type of trip signifies the type of collaboration and hands-on learning that occurs at the SSPEED Center. Dr. Keim's insight and knowledge of New Orleans provided for an exceptional learning opportunity for the SSPEED Team. The time with Dr. Keim also allowed for cross-disciplinary discussions of climate extremes and their current and future impacts on coastal and environmental engineering.