- U.S. Customs and Border Protection, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, announced this week two new border wall construction contract awards worth a total of $491 million — $167 million to Galveston, Texas-based SLSCO Ltd. for approximately eight miles of levee wall in Texas and $324 million to Barnard Construction Co., based in Bozeman, Montana, for 32 miles of primary pedestrian replacement wall in Arizona. This brings the total of November border wall contract awards to $636 million, which includes another $145 million SLSCO contract earlier this month.
- SLSCO's work, expected to begin in February, includes five wall segments located south of the Hidalgo County, Texas, towns of Alamo, Donna, Weslaco, Progreso and Mercedes, all within the agency's Rio Grande Valley sector. The project includes the construction and installation of "tactical infrastructure," which includes a reinforced concrete levee wall to match the height of the existing levee; 18-foot-tall steel bollards on top of the new concrete wall and removal of vegetation within a 150-foot enforcement zone at all segments. The levee wall project includes detection technology, lighting, video surveillance and an all-weather patrol road running alongside the levee wall.
- Barnard's contract includes primary pedestrian replacement wall in the CBP's Yuma and Tucson sectors, and construction is scheduled to begin in April 2019. The project will see an upgrade to tactical infrastructure along five miles of wall in Lukeville, Arizona, and 27 miles of wall in Yuma, Arizona.
Earlier this month, CBP and the Army Corps announced that it had given a $145 million contract to SLSCO for similar levee wall work in the McAllen Station area of the Rio Grande Valley. This and the other two November contract awards fall under President Donald Trump's 2017 Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements executive order, which calls for a wall and other barrier systems along the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border.
While the Barnard contract is for a replacement wall, SLSCO's work marks the first new wall construction along the border, but how — or if — the U.S. will pay for the rest is still up in the air. A December government shutdown, in fact, could be in the cards, as Trump has promised to veto appropriations bills if significant wall funding is not included. Seven remaining bills have a Dec. 7 deadline, which doesn't leave much time for negotiation given the upcoming Thanksgiving break.
It was a tough road for the Trump administration to secure $1.6 billion in border funding last year, and there's no reason to believe that Congress would be eager to write a check for billions more this year.