Coastal Texas Barrier Still Waiting for Congress to Approve Funds

Despite passage of Biden's infrastructure bill, there's still no guarantee a planned coastal barrier to protect Galveston Bay and Port of Houston from major storm surge will be fast-tracked anytime soon.

Whatever you call it, "Ike Dike, "Coastal Spine," or the official "Coastal Texas Study," Congress still holds the purse strings to make it happen.

"The appropriations piece really is what drives how fast we can deliver this project to Coastal Texas. So when we see what that looks like, the amounts of money and when we receive the money, that will drive it," says Mike Braden, chief of the Galveston District Mega Project Division for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The project has been in the works for a decade, and officials have warned it will take that long or longer to complete.

"There will be a design phase and then we'll get started on construction," says Braden. "A project of this scale, which has a first cost of $29 billion, will take some time to get completely constructed."

Adding to the frustration is a $109 billion backlog of Army Corps projects competing for the same money.

"How Congress racks and stacks projects, and what they include and what they don't include, that's really not our business," says Braden. "We execute what Congress authorizes and so we'll be ready to do that when the time comes."

Hurricane Irma Extreme Image of Storm Striking Miami, Florida

Photo: Getty Images

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