Galveston Engineer District, Harris County Extend Buffalo Bayou Study
The Galveston Engineer District and the Harris County (Texas) Flood Control District have announced the approval of additional funds and a schedule extension for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study (BBTRS).
The approval provides an additional $1.8 million in federal funds and extends the study for an additional 26 months, bringing the total federal funding to $7.8 million with a scheduled completion date of December 10, 2023. In addition to the federal funding, the flood control district—the study’s non-federal sponsor—will contribute technical services in support of the study, using $3.367 million in funds provided by Harris County Commissioner Precincts 3 and 4.
“We are very committed to this important, monumental project and we have heard the public’s feedback,” said Col. Tim Vail, Galveston District commander. “We continue to encourage the public to use community resources to reduce flooding and build local and regional partnerships toward resilience and recovery. At the same time, the Galveston District will continue to work toward a solution that works for the citizens of Harris County.”
The assistant secretary of the Army-civil works has approved the additional time and funds for the BBTRS following the release of an interim report in October 2020, substantial public comment and extensive coordination between Corps and the flood control district. The additional funds and time will allow for further study of alternatives including the development of a large-diameter, deep underground tunnel alternative for consideration in the study.
The flood control district is completing a feasibility study of large-diameter tunnels that will advance the analysis of tunnels within BBTRS.
“From what I experienced over my 40 years of engineering we need a vision that will do more than just dig holes,” said Harris County Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey. “The concept of drainage tunnel siphons was perfected by the Romans 2,000 years ago. It’s pragmatic. Boston has the Big Dig, and this concept could give Harris County the ‘Big Drain,’ which would include not only the Buffalo Bayou tunnel, but also the Hunting and Halls tunnel system. Thank you to the Harris County Flood Control District for their hard work on this study and to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for helping us find ways to make our region more resilient,” Ramsey said.
“I have said repeatedly that my top priority as commissioner is the protection of lives and property in my precinct,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “I am happy that the county and the Army Corps of Engineers are able to work together here in order to accomplish that priority. Let’s get this finished.”
The Corps estimates issuing a draft feasibility report and draft environmental impact statement for public review and comment in fall 2022. At that time, the Corps will provide a 45-day public review period, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The interim report and additional pertinent information about the study can be found on the Galveston District’s website. Individuals may sign up for study updates by sending an email to the study team at BBTRS@usace.army.mil.