- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is gauging industry interest and capacity for construction of a Buoy Barrier System (BBS) for use along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to an Army Corps of Engineers solicitation. Deadline for responses is Aug. 19.
- In its notice for a potential floating border wall, the Army Corps said the system must prevent swimmers from crossing the border via the water. The BBS design also must limit the ability of individuals to jump on it from the water or a boat and must prevent underwater crossings. In addition, the BBS, which must have an anchoring system able to withstand up to 25 metric tons, has to be flexible in design, easy to repair and able to operate in lakes, rivers and oceans.
- Vendor and contractor information provided through this solicitation will be used to plan the project. Companies that eventually bid on the project must have an office where the BBS will be built.
The Rio Grande River has long been a route for U.S.-Mexico border crossings, and this barrier system could be an alternative to traditional fencing built close to the water's edge.
Last month, a federal judge postponed action on a lawsuit filed by the federal government against contractor Fisher Industries and nonprofit We Build the Wall until the fencing that Fisher built could be inspected. Fisher built the barrier along the Rio Grande despite protests from the International Boundary and Water Commission that it would interfere with the flow of water, cause flooding and violate a U.S. treaty with Mexico. Visual inspections seemed to reveal that the ground underneath the $42 million wall has suffered serious erosion. Some experts claim that it could possibly fall into the Rio Grande.
The Texas Standard recently reported that the inspector has found signs of erosion, including along one 52-foot stretch of wall. Fisher was on site at the same time, reportedly repairing damage caused by Hurricane Hanna and trying to mitigate the likelihood of future erosion by using methods like hydroseeding, which ideally will produce stabilizing vegetation at the base of the 18-foot-high wall sections.
Another hurdle a floating border wall project will likely face is funding.
Under the auspices of a national emergency declaration, President Donald Trump made the controversial decision to transfer billions of dollars from the military budget to border wall construction. Courts have ruled such a transfer of funds is an effort to circumvent Congress and have granted injunctions against those projects that are using the money. However, the Supreme Court has allowed construction to move forward thus far.
The Trump administration laid claim to $6.1 billion of military funds in the 2019 budget and another $7.2 billion in the 2020 budget.