Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush plans to meet with President Donald Trump’s administration to advocate for federal funding to build a protective hurricane barrier along the Texas Coast.
- “This is Texas’ most important infrastructure project,” Bush Bush testified about the Texas General Land Office’s budget and appropriations requests for the next biennium.
- State leaders hope to persuade the federal government to fund the multi-billion dollar barrier, which is meant to protect inland areas from the type to destructive storm surge that occurred during Hurricane Ike.
Trump has promised to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects across the country to repair roads, bridges and airports.
The land office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working together on a $19.8 million Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study, which analyzes the possibilities for major, large-scale protection projects on the coast. The study, which is not expected to be completed until 2020, will make a recommendation to congress about what projects should be funded.
The land office has also requested about $30 million in appropriations from the legislature to fund smaller coastal mitigation projects identified as part of a study conducted by the land office. Texas received $50 million in 2015 as part of a settlement over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Bush said. The money went to the state’s general fund, meaning it’s not restricted on how it can be spent.
Texas Lawmakers Pledge Support for Hurricane Plan
Lawmakers vowed to champion a hurricane protection system for the Texas coast by providing money for proposals and building a levee system.
Protecting the Texas coast from natural and manmade disasters continues to make headlines in local papers as various agencies and organizations seek to find solutions to this complex issue – solutions the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District, along with its partner, the Texas General Land Office, are working to identify in the ongoing Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study.
Col. Richard Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander, acknowledged the magnitude of this undertaking and expressed appreciation for the supportive partnerships involved in the joint effort.
“The Coastal Texas study is one of the largest and most complex studies in the nation,” said Pannell. “This study will evaluate an array of alternatives designed to reduce risks associated with hurricanes and storm surge from the Sabine River to the Rio Grande. Not only will this effort determine engineering requirements and analyze economic factors, the study will also ensure that the project meets federal environmental standards. The result of the study will be an implementable project that has been coordinated with resource agencies, meets federal guidelines and is ready for Congressional authorization. The success of this study hinges on effective collaboration with our partners at the state and local level. We are very fortunate to be working hand-in-hand with the Texas General Land Office as our cost sharing partner.”
Texas General Land Office Commissioner George P. Bush expressed urgency in identifying ways to reduce risks along the Texas coast and to ensure the continued success of key infrastructure that contributes to the nation’s economy and quality of life.
“Millions of Texans live and work along the Texas coast and the time has come to get serious about investing in its protection,” said Bush. “By working together as a region – combining and coordinating local, state and federal resources – we will directly address ongoing threats to the Texas coast for future generations.”
Project Manager Sheri Willey, USACE Galveston District, explained that the comprehensive feasibility study, which aims to objectively identify strengths and weaknesses of proposed plans as well as opportunities and threats to the environment and economy, will employ a benefit-to-cost ratio approach to determine if a plan is worth pursuing and will rely on input from surrounding communities.
“We continue to gather feedback from residents that will help us identify coastal storm risk management and ecosystem restoration problems and opportunities along the Texas coast,” said Willey. “These public scoping meetings were part of our Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Reconnaissance Study.
According to Willey, Congress granted an exemption to allow the $19.8 million, 5.5-year feasibility study to proceed due to the great complexity and national importance of the Texas Gulf Coast. The Texas GLO is providing 50 percent of cost of the study.
Willey went on to explain that several coastal protection options, including the coastal spine and inland barrier structures were presented to the Texas Legislature’s Joint Interim Committee on Coastal Barrier Systems during a public hearing in August 2014 and will be reviewed again April 11, 2016 during a similar session.
“While these proposals should be considered in-depth, the most effective way to determine the most beneficial long-term solutions for protecting the Galveston Bay area is to partner with agencies and stakeholders in a comprehensive study to consider all factors,” said Willey. “The comprehensive feasibility study will identify a variety of critical considerations including potential shoreline degradation, storm damage risk reduction, environmental restoration and protection as well as related improvements along the Texas Gulf Coast to ensure that preservation of the Texas coastal region is balanced with the growth and needs of industries that fuel commerce and power the nation.”
Pannell added that the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study will leverage existing information and data that has been developed following recent hurricanes by numerous stakeholders such as Texas A&M at Galveston, the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center based at Rice University as well as studies by the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District and Texas GLO on critical infrastructure and environmental resource opportunities.
- For more news and information about the Texas coast, visit the USACE Galveston District website at http://www.swg.usace.army.mil.
- For more information about the Texas GLO please visit www.txglo.com.