SSPEEDSevere Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster Center
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Blackburn said it may indeed be too late, but the SSPEED Center plans to pursue a separate federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for the project that could add it to the already-approved dredging project - which could still be years away from receiving funding from Congress.
For one, the SSPEED Center won't be able to submit a permit application on its own; it will first have to secure a local sponsor, which is typically a governmental entity.
SSPEED Center officials say sophisticated storm modeling shows the structure would - in a Category 3 hurricane with wind speeds about 15 percent higher than those during Ike - "significantly reduce storm-surge flooding in both the Houston Ship Channel and in the heavily populated west Galveston Bay communities that are difficult to evacuate."
Whether the SSPEED Center's peers - or policymakers - will rally around the new plan remains to be seen.
SSPEED Center officials say they are working closely with all local, state and federal entities to avoid duplicative efforts.
In two crucial exploratory efforts, the SSPEED Center has brought together academics from a number of Texas universities to study flood protection trade-offs, and the six counties in the surge zone - Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange - have formed the Gulf Coast Community Protection and Recovery District, informally called the Surge District.
In the first installment of an ongoing study, the SSPEED Center tried to quantify the effects.