New Study Aims to Protect Texas Coast Against Super Storm

Protecting the Texas coast from natural and man-made disasters continues to make headlines in the media as various agencies and organizations seek to find solutions to this complex issue.

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.”

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.