With the headline “Think Beyond Coastal Spine for Storm Protection,” the Editorial Board of the Houston Chronicle just urged our county government to start the permitting process for Galveston Bay Park:
The [Galveston Bay Park] proposal, developed by Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education & Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center, would create a 25-foot-high wall up the middle of Galveston Bay as a series of islands, extending from Houston Point down the ship channel to Texas City.
If initial permitting work begins this year, the project could be completed as early as 2027 and would help protect the bay’s west bank, which is home to 800,000 people, 2.2 million barrels of refining capacity and the hundreds of chemical plants along the channel, said Jim Blackburn, an environmental attorney and co-director of the SSPEED Center.
Part of what makes the project stand out is its multi-purpose nature, with its construction resulting in 10,000 acres of public land that would be open for recreational use. Illustrations for the project show areas for camping, fishing, a marina and event space.
What Houston’s metropolitan region needs now, the editors say, is an application to the Army Corps of Engineers to begin an environmental study. That application will cost about $2 million, and it will ensure the feasibility of Galveston Bay Park. The county governments of Harris, Galveston, and Chambers should spearhead the application:
Harris, Galveston and Chambers counties, individually or in partnership, should sponsor the needed permit. Refineries and other firms that will benefit from its protection should help pay for it. The Galveston Bay Park Plan is a creative, timely solution that deserves to be fully explored.