Texas' chosen Army Corps coastal barrier plan could cost up to $32B
- The Texas General Land Office and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week released their statement outlining a $23 billion to $31.8 billion plan to protect the Texas coastline from future flooding events.
- The Tentatively Selected Plan, referred to in the draft as the "Coastal Barrier Alternative," would see the construction of floodwalls (inverted T-walls); highway and railroad floodgates; seawall upgrades; drainage infrastructure; pump stations; surge barrier gates and a gate complex (floating sector gate, vertical lift gates, and a combi-wall of vertically driven piles with a battered support pile and a reinforced concrete cap) between Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. The project would also include beach and dune nourishment on South Padre Island, Texas, and nine ecosystem restoration projects, including beach and dune restoration; shoreline, island and fish and wildlife habitat protection; restoration of a bird island; new oyster clutches and construction of rock breakwaters.
- The cost of construction and design alone, which includes ecosystem restoration and other environmental measures, is estimated at between approximately $21 billion to $29.5 billion, with the gate complex, estimated to cost between $5.1 billion and $6.3 billion, being most expensive item. Projected real estate and land costs are projected to be between $2.2 billion and $2.4 billion. The real estate portion of the project would be paid for by state funds only, but construction and design would also be supported by federal dollars. After a review and comment period, a final report should be completed in 2021.
The $6 billion America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which President Donald Trump signed in October, includes authorization for up to $2.2 billion of federal funds for the project, the largest allocation in the act.
In addition to providing funding for water-related initiatives like port and inland waterway upgrades, flood control, ecosystem repair, dam improvements and upgrades to drinking water systems, the act also reauthorized the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program, which typically receives requests for amounts that far exceed program limits. According to Environmental Protection Agency and American Society of Civil Engineers estimates, water infrastructure repair and construction needs run between $743 billion and $1 trillion.
But there is an urgency right now when it comes to flood protection given the storm surge damage from this season's two major hurricanes — Florence and Michael. According to a Triangle Business Journal report, damage from Florence could reach almost $30 billion in the Carolinas and Virginia, according to still-developing estimates.
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