Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Monday, urging him to include $15 billion for a coastal barrier system for Houston and Galveston in his plans for national infrastructure projects.
Bush has for months said he was in communication with the White House over his desire for funding for a coastal barrier. The letter is the most public overture yet.
“The Texas Coast possesses an extensive port system that is crucial not only to the United States’ economy but also to our national security,” Bush wrote. “Building the proposed coastal barrier system is a historic opportunity to safeguard our nation’s economy, our national security and millions of citizens’ lives and livelihood.”
The letter includes the signatures of 60 Texas leaders, including members of the legislature, mayors from 21 coastal cities, six county judges and more than two dozen business and education leaders.
Among the local signatories of the letter are state Rep. Wayne Faircloth; state Sen. Larry Taylor; Galveston County Judge Mark Henry; Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough; Dickinson Mayor Julie Masters; League City Mayor Pat Hallisey and Texas A&M University at Galveston professor William Merrell, the originator of the Ike Dike proposal.
The letter stresses the importance of the Texas Coast — and of the ports of Houston, Beaumont and Freeport, in particular — to the U.S. economy, and asks for $15 billion in funding for the construction of the project.
Since 2008, there have been no new major infrastructure projects designed to protect Galveston, Houston and other local cities against the type of storm surge that happened during Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Bush and other supporters have said that had Ike taken a slightly different track it would have caused $100 billion in damages.
A coastal barrier system built between Orange County and Brazoria County would cost $15 billion to construct, Bush wrote.
“These projects are in an excellent position to ‘turn dirt’ as early as next year and start the process of finally protecting the coast of Texas,” Bush wrote. “We believe we have all the support necessary; what we need is the $15 billion in funding to protect this crucial part of the nation’s economy.”
Trump, who reaches his 100th day in office Saturday, has revealed little about his plans for a national infrastructure improvement program. It was one of his top campaign promises and, unlike many of his other proposals, has support from both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.
Politico reported Tuesday that Trump was likely to include an infrastructure spending proposal in a tax plan he is supposed to reveal Wednesday.
It’s unclear how much support a Texas-backed project will have in Washington. While U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Randy Weber have publicly expressed their support for a coastal barrier system, the rest of Texas’ delegation has been silent.
Bush’s letter includes no signatures from elected federal officials.