The Orange County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has taken the lead on finding a means of protection for its citizens and the businesses of Orange County. The EDC announced on Wednesday that it has hired Carroll & Blackmon, Inc.(CBI) to serve as project managers and perform a feasibility study for a hurricane protection system in Orange County. CBI has teamed with LEAP Engineering, LLC (LEAP) and Costello, Inc. (CI), both local southeast Texas engineering firms, to work on this significant project. All three firms have years of local infrastructure experience and bring significant levee experience to the study. President of the EDC, Bobby Fillyaw, said the EDC is “excited to be working with this team because of the resources and experience they bring to the project.”

Regarding their selection for the study, Kim Carroll of CBI said they are “very excited to be starting the planning process for this very important project. Our team consists of local southeast Texas engineering firms with unique skill sets based on unique experience. We intend to work tirelessly with local and regional leaders as we begin the process of planning for a Hurricane Flood Protection System for Orange County.”

From the start of discussions regarding the project, the EDC knew that a critical aspect of the project was a funding source. For that reason, the CBI team also includes the Houston law firm of Allen Boone Humphries and Robinson, LLP (ABHR) as they are experts in public finance of large infrastructure projects. Additional local support is being provided by Hubert Oxford III of Benckenstein & Oxford, LLP.

The first phase of the study will be to identify all the stakeholders in the project. The team will meet with the municipal entities in the County to identify who will be each entity’s representative. They will then reach out to industry and others that may wish to be involved and will contact the local Congressional delegation members.

Once the stakeholders are determined, funding sources for the detailed engineering study will be identified and pursued, such as FEMA, GLO, TWDB and others. The goal is to use whatever EDC or other local governmental funds that are available as matching funds for the various grant programs available to Orange County. Once funding is obtained, a study will proceed to evaluate alignment alternatives and project financing options.

But, the first order of business is to maximize the return on the current available funding. Once that is accomplished, the project can move forward with preliminary engineering and funding options (Corps or other alternative) and ultimately, to final design. “This will be a long and tedious process but once we are moving forward, we want to keep the ball rolling” said Bobby Fillyaw.