- Associated Press - Thursday, March 3, 2016

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - A report by a six-county group seeking better hurricane protection for the Texas coast says extending mainland levees and building a levee ring around the east end of Galveston Island would be cheaper and have more economic impact than a proposed a 55-mile seawall.

The Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District cost-effectiveness study estimates that the extension and ring would cost around $3.5 billion to build. In return, it estimates the system would provide $1.2 billion in annual benefits to the region.

The seawall, proposed by experts at Texas A&M; University at Galveston, is estimated to cost $5.8 billion and only have an annual benefit of $1 billion.

“The annual benefits are greater” for the levee alternative, the report says. “This can be attributed to the enhanced level of protection that is provided to the city of Galveston and the west side of Galveston Bay by a system that effectively seals these areas from tidal surge.”

But the Galveston County Daily News (https://bit.ly/1TUMD0a ) says the report does not make recommendations about how the state should move forward with storm surge protection measures. That study should be presented in June, said Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, the chairman of the recovery district committee.

While the levee alternative is cheaper, Henry said, it might not get the support of local residents because of who would be left out. The extended levee that was analyzed for the study would run north along State Highway 146. It would leave some communities, including Bacliff and San Leon, without protection. It also would not include any protection for areas west of Galveston’s Scholes International Airport, or on Bolivar Peninsula.

Hurricane Ike caused $19.3 billion of damage in Texas in 2008. Since then, there have been no large-scale federal or state projects approved to prevent the type of storm-surge damage that occurred during Ike. According to Henry, Individual cities, counties and institutions have used federal money to harden their own infrastructure against the type damage Ike caused.


Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, https://www.galvnews.com

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