The US Senate has approved a $16bn construction project to install a system of sea defences over more than 110km of east Texas coastline.
If it goes ahead, the scheme would be the largest civil engineering project in US history, but may take 20 years to complete, Houston Public Media reports.
The barriers will be built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in Galveston Bay. They have been called the “Ike Dike”, a reference to Hurricane Ike, which hit the Caribbean in 2008, killing 195 people, 74 of which were in Haiti, and causing devastation from Louisiana to Corpus Christi in Texas.
The programme is part of the Texas Coastal Project, which includes levees and dune restoration. The $31bn for this larger project is included in the Water Resources Development Act, which has yet to be approved.
Bob Stokes, president of the Galveston Bay Foundation, told Houston Public Media that the scheme still faced significant hurdles. He said: “Once authorised it has to compete to get funding with other projects. But assuming it gets funding … there’s two more years of design work.”
He added that the length of the project posed its own dangers. “There’s concern about bigger, and more intense storms due to climate change. So hopefully the odds are with us, hopefully we don’t get hit by a big storm between now and when this coastal barrier is completed,” he said.