- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $1.3 billion border wall contract to Fisher Sand and Gravel, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The Associated Press said that Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, where the contractor is headquartered, confirmed the deal.
- Fisher's scope of work includes 42 miles of barrier construction from Nogales, Arizona, to the eastern edge of the Tohono O'odham Nation reservation, which is situated across three counties — Pinal, Pima and Maricopa. A 38-mile westward stretch will have small gaps separating six segments, and a four-mile piece will be built east of Nogales. Fisher will also build a small section, measuring 0.2 miles, at or in close proximity to the nearby Santa Cruz River.
- The Army Corps told the AP that it has not yet determined a start or completion date.The average cost of this part of the wall is $30 million per mile, even though the average cost per mile for other wall projects in the same area is approximately $20 million per mile.
Fisher was the low bidder out of a pool of 12 contractors that the Army Corps selected in May 2019 to compete for wall work. The companies also include BFBC, an affiliate of Barnard Construction Co.; Texas Sterling Construction Co.; Bristol Construction Services LLC; Burgos Group LLC; Gibraltar-Caddell JV; and Southwest Valley Constructors Co., an affiliate of Kiewit. They will compete for $5 billion of border wall work during the next five years.
Cramer told the AP that the wall Fisher builds will be painted black for aesthetics and to make the fence too hot to climb for those trying to get into the U.S. outside the authorized points of entry.
Army Corps spokesperson Jay Field told the Daily Star that even though border projects in Southern Arizona had similarities, factors like topography, location of underground utilities, real estate acquisitions and the cost of labor and materials would ultimately determine the cost. Cramer said the project would take Fisher over "rough terrain."
As for the construction of the barrier itself, there are no details about Fisher's design, but other wall segments in the area use a 30-foot bollard fence topped with a steel plate.
When the Army Corps awarded Fisher a $400 million fixed-price, design-build contract for border infrastructure at the southern edge of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in Yuma County, Arizona, in December 2019, accusations of "inappropriate influence,” led to a Defense Department Inspector General review of the award that is still underway. Fisher is reportedly a favorite of President Donald Trump.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, requested the review and suggested that the president influenced the Army Corps' decision to award the contract to Fisher. Thompson also had plenty to say about this latest Fisher contract.
Thompson expressed his dissatisfaction at having to learn of the award from the media because the federal government did not issue its standard press releases announcing border wall contracts.
"If the administration cared about anything besides political optics and maximizing miles of fence in the run-up to an election, they wouldn’t have awarded this contract," said Thompson in a statement published on his website. "The facts remain that the DoD (Department of Defense) Inspector General has yet to determine if the December contract to the same company was properly awarded — and the country is facing a pandemic with no end in sight.
“Given the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing investigation into Fisher, the Administration should pause construction and contracting decisions until the investigation has concluded favorably and it is safe to resume non-essential construction projects,” he said.
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf visited the Tucson area earlier this month and said the administration plans on building 220 miles of border wall this year for a total of 400 miles.