A plan being developed by the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would spend as much as $32 billion to protect the Houston-Galveston area from storm surges.
The project would construct the nation’s most ambitious and expensive coastal barrier system. It would consist of 12-foot-high sand dune-topped levees to protect beachfront homes and businesses as well as a storm surge barrier system.
The plan has already gone through revisions to make it more effective and more environmentally friendly. The plan has drawn criticism from the Galveston business community which says a proposed ring levee would hinder cargo and passenger loading at the Port of Galveston. Environmentalists are concerned that a gate system between Galveston and Bolivar to block storm surges would diminish exchange of saltwater and freshwater between Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico that is important to marine life.
The Houston-Galveston region, home to millions of people and the nation’s largest petrochemical complex, is vulnerable to massive storm surges and currently has no comprehensive storm protection system.