Letter signed by 60 Texas leaders and sent to Trump backs Ike Dike
GALVESTON – Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has sent Donald Trump a letter signed by more than 60 Texas leaders urging the president to include a coastal barrier in his planned $1 trillion national infrastructure project.
“We believe we have all the support necessary; what we need is the $15 billion in funds to protect this crucial part of the nation’s economy,” reads the letter sent Monday to the president.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The cost estimate is larger than the previous one, $11.63 billion, because it includes money for a ring dike around the portions of the city of Galveston behind the seawall and for a gate at the Galveston Bay entrance to Clear lake, Land Office spokeswoman Brittany Eckcq said. The ring dike and gate were previously proposed but not included in cost estimates, Eck said.
The letter — signed by 21 coastal mayors, six county judges and more than two dozen businessmen and educators — says that construction could begin in 2018 on the barrier, popularly known as the Ike Dike, if money is available.
“These projects are in an excellent position to ‘turn dirt’ as early as next year and start the process of finally protecting the coast of Texas,” the letter says.
Congress is unlikely to fund a coastal barrier until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes its studies. The corps is scheduled to have a preliminary recommendation ready by June 2018, with the full study completed by 2021.
Another study that the corps is working on with the Land Office that only looks at coastal areas in Brazoria, Jefferson and Orange counties is expected to be completed this fall, Eck said. It would contain enough information to allow Congress to authorize construction of small pieces of the overall plan.
The project would protect the coasts of Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties from a storm surge like the one generated in 2008 by Hurricane Ike, which killed 74 people and caused nearly $30 billion in damage.
The Gulf Coast Community Protection and Restoration District, known as the surge district, last year recommended a coastal barrier built along the Gulf side of Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula with a storm-surge gate connecting the two barrier islands to protect Galveston, Harris and Chambers counties.
A system of dikes would protect Brazoria, Jefferson and Orange counties.
The cost of the project could rise several billion dollars if a controversial plan to put a second gate in mid-Galveston Bay along the ship channel is adopted.