Houston mayor pushes storm surge 'spine' to protect city

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston area leaders pleaded for storm surge protection this morning.

They want a coastal spine built around Galveston Bay to help minimize the impact of monster storms. The idea first floated to the forefront after Hurricane Ike impacted our area back in 2008.

The project involved building a system of gates and walls to keep water out of the bay.

Experts estimated the construction costs to be upwards of $14 billion. It could take 14 years to build.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said a coastal spine would allow rain water to better flow out to the bay. He said the time to act is now. Turner warned that storm surge could cripple the Houston Ship Channel and lead to soaring energy prices if a disaster hit the area.

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The coastal spine would do much to protect the Houston area, Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

"If Hurricane Ike would have moved a little bit further to the north, there would have been a major storm surge and the port and other areas would have literally be wiped out. It just makes good sense recognizing that these storms are going to keep coming," Turner said. "Houston needs it. Texas needs it. The country needs it. The Houston port is not just a regional port. It's a national port with international ramifications and impacts. It benefits everyone."

The federal government would need to approve and fund such an idea. Houston leaders say any Hurricane Harvey relief packages approved by Congress should include the coastal spine.

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