Frequently Asked Questions

I live near the Houston ship Channel. Why should I care about storm surge?

If the Houston ship Channel is hit by a surge and you live nearby, the surge will head your way.  And it will be a violent encounter. Storm surge is like a battering ram: It carries heavy items from cows to cars, roofs, and structural material. This debris will hit your home, damaging it and endangering your life.

But that’s not all. If the ship channel floods to a level of 14 feet and above, chemical tanks will begin to float and release their toxic contents into the environment. When these toxins come to your neighborhood, they will poison you.

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I live far from the Houston Ship Channel. Why should I care about storm surge? 

The Houston Ship Channel is the economic engine of the Greater Houston area. It enables 20% of Texas GDP. When the Channel is hit by storm surge, its facilities will shut down for months. People in the Ship Channel will lose their livelihoods. So will those working in industries or professions that depend on the Ship Channel, be it for transport, materials, or customers whose purchasing power derives from Ship Channel area. If the Ship Channel gets damaged and its surroundings get contaminated, the entire Greater Houston area will suffer. It will no longer be a booming market that attracts outside labor.  

Also remember: When industrial facilities get damaged on a massive scale and their toxic contents are spilled, free to mingle with each other, massive air pollution will follow. This pollution will not stay where the surge occurred. It will reach your home too.

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How much hurricane storm surge is too much?

Any amount of surge is bad. But at 14 to 15 feet surge (above mean sea level) industrial tanks will start floating and their toxic contents get released into the environment.

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What is the Galveston Bay Park?

Galveston Bay Park is a series of interconnected barriers that run from north to south in the southern part of the Houston Ship Channel. At their southernmost point they connect into the Texas City Dike. The structure contains a large navigation gate in the south to let the large ships pass and smaller gates further north. Attached to the barriers are man-made islands. Once finished, these will form a beautiful public park.

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Who are experts associated with the Galveston Bay Park?

Among the experts associated with the Galveston Bay Park are Phil Bedient, an engineering professor and director of Rice University’s SSPEED Center; Jim Blackburn, an environmental attorney and co-director of Rice University’s SSPEED Center; civil engineer Charles Penland of Walter P. Moore; and architect Rob Rogers of Rogers Partners.

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How much will the Galveston Bay Park cost?

Cost estimates are between $4 to 7 billion.

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How long will it take to build the Galveston Bay Park?

Building the park will take approximately five years from the time it is permitted.

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How long will it take to permit the Galveston Bay Park?

The permit that is required for the Galveston Bay Park is a United States Army Corps of Engineers 404 permit. Such a permit will be granted upon completion of a comprehensive environmental impact statement. If we apply for the permit right away, we can get started on the environmental impact statement. In that case the whole process will be completed 2 to 3 years from now.

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Who will pay for the Galveston Bay Park?

Funding can and should come from a variety of sources: federal, state, and local governments; significantly affected industries along the Houston ship Channel; and Houston’s petrochemical complex.

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Do we need Congress to build the Galveston Bay Park?

No. We do not.

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Who are the most likely local government partners to sponsor the project?

Harris County and the Port of Houston.

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