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Galvestonians urged to study USACE plan for Coastal Spine and make their views known
by Harris L. Kempner, Jr.
Monday, December 10, 2018

Harris L. Kempner, Jr. is urging Galvestonians and those with a vested interest in the future of Galveston and the Upper Texas Gulf Coast to review the Coastal Spine project plans being presented by the US Army Corps of Engineers and make their views known.

To whom it may concern:   

“Whatever their present views on the major Coastal Spine project, I believe many Galvestonians and others will agree with my negative view of the proposed Ring Levee add–on .... If so, I hope they can make that view known to the US Army Corps of Engineers, and soon”

"I urge all concerned to submit their views to the USACE at today.” 

Below, is my written testimony outlining my view of the proposed Coastal Spine and of the proposed Galveston Ring Levee add-on.  I also hope to speak on this subject at the Galveston public meeting, Wednesday December 12 from 5:30-9:00 at the Galveston Convention Center.  


Harris l. Kempner ,Jr.
Galveston, TX.

    Pro Coastal Spine – Anti Ring Levee around Galveston

 December 10, 2018 

I want to tell you what I am for and what I am against.  I am very much for the Coastal Spine Project. A storm surge barrier at the coast will substantially reduce the storm surge effects of the entire Galveston-Houston region.  It will save lives and property for the entire region.  It will reduce our insurance bills and, in general, it will make our lives better. That I am very much for. 

I am very much against the “Ring Levee” around Galveston Island because, on the contrary, I believe it will make our lives very much worse, with limited net utility.  As presently constituted, it is a high 18’ wall that starts at 103rd Street, goes north across Offat’s Bayou to Harborside, cuts east down Harborside on one side or the other, thereby impacting the industry there.  It then continues east through the Port area leaving most Port facilities on the wrong side and daily kneecapping the Port industry with its obstruction.  It then cuts through the Strand Historic District, cruelly impacting those historic structures and tourism, goes on through the medical school property, thereby making it more difficult for our major employer to function.  It rides on through Lindale and out the East End, putting some of them on the exposed side of it and some of them on the other, with an 18’ wall in between.  Obviously, this structure will thoroughly damage the economy of Galveston, all by itself.  It also will effectively make Galveston into a bathtub.  Whenever there’s a heavy rain fall, which happens maybe 5 or 10 times a year, not once every 5 – 10 years, we will be far more prone to flooding because it will build within the bathtub. Clearing that is a Rube-Goldberg set of pumps, which will have to pump out the water 5 or 10 times a year.  New Orleans shows these frequently don’t work, and are a major city expense. So, this “Ring Levee” will be useful once every 5 or 10 years but grievously impact the day-to-day operations of Galveston businesses and lives of the citizens and, cause more flooding in the City overall, than would be true without it. 

Why this destructive Ring Levee has been added to the coastal barrier, I’ll never know.  Particularly when there is an effective alternative that does not have these negative effects on the community, and probably costs less. There have been plans that you have been presented, vetted by Texas A&M, the Dutch, and simulated by the people you use at Jackson State, for structures and gates at San Luis Pass.  This would have much the same effect of blocking back water flooding when we need it occasionally, without upsetting the economy and causing us to become a bathtub, which may not drain well at all.  Please consider this alternative to the Ring Levee. 

I just want to make it clear that I do absolutely favor the concept of a coastal spine storm surge barrier going from east to west down Galveston island, gated across the channel through Bolivar and also with a gated San Luis Pass, 

I think that the idea of the Ring Levee is both very expensive and will be very destructive to life here on the island.  I hope you can see fit to banish that from your plans.  

Harris L. Kempner, Jr.

Galveston, TX.

Remembering Jim Guidry

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