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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.

Graphic by Todd Wiseman

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.

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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.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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