The Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility Study, also known as the Coastal Texas Study, proposes innovative engineering solutions to ensure long-term resilience of the entire Texas coast.
The more than 100-person study team is led by a multi-discipline staff from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in partnership with staff from the Texas General Land Office (GLO), and collaboration with subject-matter experts and engineering, environmental, and public outreach consultants from across the region.
The study team engaged the public through a variety of mediums to transparently communicate the scope and scale of the team’s recommended plan to the local communities. The team established a website (https://www.coastalstudy.texas.gov
) solely dedicated to the study that included project history, fact sheets, study time lines, meeting information, and project storyboards. Utilizing contract support, the team agreed on a set of engagement rules, supporting website content, and printed materials to ensure consistency. These efforts allow the public to have a more comprehensive understanding of the study.
To ensure consistent delivery of information, the team created an introductory video shown at each public meeting that guided participants through the overall study, status of the study, and commenting process. During the project delivery effort, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the study team to adapt its outreach efforts.
The first step was to develop a GIS-based “Story Map” that used Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) technology to animate the complicated concepts discussed in the recommended plan, thus allowing the public to: 1) see the difference in flooding the project could make in the Houston and Galveston areas; 2) experience a virtual landscape with the proposed beach and dune systems in place; and 3) examine potential environmental impacts and review our proposed mitigation plan (https://coastal-texas-hub-usace-swg.hub.arcgis.com/
). The team then hosted a series of Q&A sessions utilizing the story maps to engage the public and convey the benefits and costs of the proposed plan.
To set a standard of transparent communications and build trust with the community, the virtual meetings were hosted at recurring times, using the same meeting platform, and offering a standard contact number. This ensured the community knew when and where to receive information and were given the opportunity to provide feedback and engage with the team one on one. Using a trained communications contractor to facilitate the meetings allowed the study team to focus on engaging with the public and ensured all participants had a solid understanding of the project and the path forward.
Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commanding general and 55th U.S. Army chief of engineers, signed the Chief’s Report for the “Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study” (the Coastal Texas Study) on Sept. 16, 2021. The report was a compilation of USACE and GLO, based on public input.