Rep. Brian Babin, R-Woodville, and Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, spoke briefly via teleconference at a Bay Area Houston Transportation Partnership meeting May 4 about the three projects and how they are priorities for southeast Houston's infrastructure, which Babin said is "crumbling and in dire need of ... repairs."
Widening and dredging the Port of Houston is a way to fix many of its problems, Babin said, including problems between energy and containment vessels.
"[Widening the channel] will solve just about every problem [we have]," he said. "It's my No. 1 priority."
Once the widening is funded, the port will need additional money for maintenance, but Babin asserted his belief that it will be worth the cost.
"It's what drives the economic engine of [Houston]," he said of the port.
Weber echoed Babin's sentiments, noting that widening the Port of Houston and other projects could help Texas lead the rest of the county out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We would argue southeast Texas, this Gulf Coast, is well-positioned to be the energy capital of the world," he said. "I think when this pandemic [is] over, Texas is well-positioned to emerge, probably, the quickest.”
Another project top of mind is the coastal spine, a proposed series of dunes and walls that would help protect the Bay Area from storm surges during hurricanes. The $23 billion-$32 billion project is still in the planning stages and will eventually need congressional approval; however, Weber mentioned that President Donald Trump has said it sounds "stupid" to build something to hold back a hurricane.
A third priority, Babin and Weber said, is the Grand Parkway, the incomplete "third loop" in the Greater Houston area, construction of which Bay Area officials have been advocating for years. The parkway would go through League City and link up to Hwy. 146, thus improving transportation in the area and providing an evacuation route during emergencies, officials have said.
Babin and Weber said Congress is not in session because of COVID-19, but both said it is time to get back to work, possibly voting in shifts to move bills along.
We haven’t heard anything about going back into session, which is not good news," Weber said. "I think we ought to be there. We can sit 6 feet apart, and we can start working on some of this stuff.”
“People are suffering, and they want to go back to work," Babin agreed. "We've been out of work long enough."