- Construction contracts valued at $773 million have been awarded in recent weeks to build 57 new miles of border wall in Laredo, Texas, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
- Last week, a $283 million contract for 27 miles was awarded to Fisher Sand & Gravel and a $201 million contract for 13 miles was awarded to Southwest Valley Constructors. In addition, Fisher received a $289.5 million contract in August to build 17 miles of border wall through downtown Laredo. All three projects are being funded by CBP’s FY 2020 appropriations.
- Construction will occur where no barriers exist, according to a CBP statement, and the projects will include a 30-foot-tall steel bollard wall, all-weather roads, lighting, enforcement cameras and other related technology. Construction is anticipated to begin in September 2021, pending availability of real estate, CBP said.
Although the projects won't begin until next year, President Donald Trump’s administration is racing to build other parts of the border wall ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with construction crews now adding nearly two miles per day, according to The Washington Post, a rate that's nearly doubled since the beginning of the year. Securing the southern border of the U.S. via a border wall is a main promise of Trump's reelection campaign.
Crews have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on at least five locations on the border, officials told The Post.
The administration has installed more than 341 miles so far, according to a CBP tracker, using 509,000 tons of steel and 732,000 cubic yards of concrete. CBP officials said they remain on track to finish at least 450 miles by the end of 2020.
In addition, approximately 240 miles are under construction and an additional 157 miles are classified as preconstruction, CBP announced last week.
“In January, we reached 100 miles of new border wall system. In June, we achieved 200 miles. In August, we marked the 300th mile — and by the end of this calendar year we will reach over 450 miles of new border wall system," Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in the announcement.
The three awards were announced despite the fact that Fisher came under fire this summer when reports casts doubt on the structural integrity of a wall section the company had built elsewhere in Texas.
Civil and environmental engineer Mark Tompkins found that the 18-foot-high bollard fence along the Rio Grande River in Mission, Texas, has caused significant erosion and will fail during a "high flow event." Tompkins also found that the plan Fisher formulated to maintain the wall is inadequate.
In addition, a second firm, Millennium Engineering Group, noted erosion on the river side of the wall that could pose a future risk of deflection. It also found that the riverside concrete foundation of the wall, as well as pour strips, were poured without the use of formwork and that areas of erosion under the wall were up to 4 feet deep and 3 feet wide, which could impact the wall's stability.