Corps Funding Will Cover Less Than A Third The Cost Of A Coastal Spine

The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated nearly $4 billion to the project, which aims to guard Greater Houston against a storm surge from a major hurricane.

This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finally funded the start of a coastal spine, also known as the “Ike Dike,” to guard Greater Houston against storm surges. But the grant still falls short of what’s needed.

The Corps allocated close to $5 billion for flood control infrastructure projects in Texas, including $3.9 billion for the construction of a coastal spine stretching from Galveston Bay to Sabine Pass.

“Four billion is absolutely a step in the right direction, but is decidedly not nearly enough to protect the region from a direct hit from a major, major hurricane,” says Philip Bedient, director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education & Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center at Rice University.

Engineers and policymakers have been pressing for construction of a coastal spine since 2008, when Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston and nearly sent a storm surge straight up the Houston Ship Channel. Bedient says $4 billion would just cover the cost of a coastal levee. He estimates building the entire system, including surge gates across the Bolivar Roads, would cost more than $12 billion.