“I would want about $3 billion for the city of Houston and Harris County for the bayous,” he said.
Any Houstonian who’s dried couch or car upholstery after a recent flood might easily agree, for what’s becoming a part of living in some neighborhoods. Powerful, persistent storms the past two years soaked streets, stranded drivers who risked a high-water ride and lost. In some neighborhoods near bayous the rains busted in, leaving behind waterlogged carpets and mud stains before receding back within the banks.
Ask engineers in Texas, and like the saying goes everything is bigger here, including the needs and costs for new water pipes, locks and dams and roads and bridges. A plan to realign Interstate 45 in the Houston area alone is expected to cost about $7 billion, about the same as the lowest cost estimates for storm-surge protection for Galveston Bay.
“Anybody can easily come up with a $1 billion or $5 billion way to spend on infrastructure, whatever amount you say,” said Mike Voinis, Houston office leader for HNTB, a national engineering company. “There never is going to be enough money to handle all that, so we need to come up with innovative ways and creative ways to leverage the dollars we have… No amount of money can solve what we have.”