Texas lawmakers request funding for Ike Dike in Biden infrastructure plan

by | May 12, 2021 | Environment, Policy

Several Houston-area Congress members are urging congressional leaders in charge of infrastructure to fund the Texas Coastal Spine — better known as the “Ike Dike.”

In a letter penned this week, Houston area lawmakers urged Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and committee ranking member Sam Graves (R-MO) to include the Ike Dike and other regional coastal resiliency projects in Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. 

“This project to extend Galveston Island’s existing seawall and construct floodgates in Galveston is precisely the kind of visionary project that is called for in this moment,” lawmakers wrote. “It aligns with the goals of this Committee and the American Jobs Plan by taking seriously the need to protect against increasingly frequent and intense weather events. The unique conditions present on the Texas Gulf Coast also make this transformative plan a national priority.”

The coalition of lawmakers, led by Houston Democrat Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), includes five other Democrats; Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Colin Allred (TX-32), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Filemon Vela (TX-34); and five Republicans, Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Randy Weber (TX-14), Brian Babin (TX-36), Michael McCaul (TX-10) and Troya Nehls (TX-22). 

“While hurricanes are a fact of life along the Gulf Coast, in a little more than a decade, our region has sustained increasingly dangerous and destructive hurricanes — causing loss of life, destruction of property, and hundreds of billions of dollars in damages,” lawmakers wrote, citing Hurricane Ike in 2008, the third-costliest storm in U.S. history, and Hurricane Harvey, the region’s third 500-year flood in three years. 

Lawmakers said that an Ike Dike would protect the infrastructure around critical facilities that power the county. In addition to being home to seven million Texans and one of the nation’s busiest ports, the region is responsible for almost a third of America’s refining capacity and is estimated to refine 40 percent of the nation’s jet fuel. 

A storm surge damaging the area would, “be felt throughout the country and across the world, with dire economic and national security impacts,” lawmakers said. 

The Ike Dike is estimated to cost $26 billion — a drop in the bucket among Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, and almost five times less than the total cost of Hurricane Harvey ($125 billion).  

Lawmakers said that not acting to protect the Gulf Coast would also come with a price tag. 

“The costs of the potential human and environmental disaster of a storm surge along the Texas Gulf Coast and up the Houston Ship Channel are too great to bear,” they said. 

Photo: Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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