On April 5, 2016, the SSPEED Center hosted a meeting focused on discussing the necessary steps forward in creating a comprehensive storm surge protection plan to protect the Houston-Galveston area from the next big storm event. The meeting consisted of presentations from the SSPEED Center, Texas A&M Galveston University (TAMUG), and Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District (GCCPRD) followed by a structured discussion led by a team from AECOM. AECOM is the recipient of a General Land Office (GLO) grant to study coastal resiliency in the region, especially in the Galveston Bay area.
The intent of the meeting was to bring together surge mitigation ideas and proposals from SSPEED, TAMUG, and GCCPRD and to prepare for the legislative hearing on April 11 in Austin, TX as well as the SSPEED Conference held at Rice on April 26-27.
AECOM brought experts to the meeting in areas that relate to post-Hurricane Sandy and post-Hurricane Katrina rebuilding efforts.
The conversations revolved around Coastal Spine and Mid-Bay options, Ike Dike proposals, and levee options both in the Bay and on land (or beach). There was discussion on costs and benefits, methods of raising federal versus local funds for the construction of a storm surge protection project.
Attendees of the meeting included researchers, industry leaders, and political figures such as Former Harris County Judge, Robert Eckels, Texas State Senator Larry Taylor and Alan Clark, Director of Transportation Planning at Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC).
The next phase of these meetings continued on April 11, 2016 as researchers from the SSPEED Center continued the conversations around the protection strategies and sources of funding for the protection project to local representatives. The presentation outlined the urgency we have to build a surge barrier before the region experiences another big storm.
The attendees included State Senators Larry Taylor, Troy Fraser, Sylvia Garcia, Lois Kolkhorst and Brian Birdwell and States Representatives Joe Deshotel, Wayne Faircloth, Matt Krause, Cecil Bell, Eddcie Lucio III, Ed Thompson and Dennis Paul.
The SSPEED Center will host its public conference on April 26-27 to continue this discussion on how to best protect the region.