- The Texas Facilities Commission (TFC) announced Sept. 3 that it is recommending the joint venture of Dallas engineering firm Huitt-Zollars and Pittsburgh-based engineering firm Michael Baker International for the project manager role on the proposed Texas border wall. Both have experience building hundreds of miles of border wall projects under previous presidential administrations, according to the Washington Examiner.
- The JV beat out two other competitors, Versar and DE Corp. (formerly Dannenbaum Engineering). Before the decision is completed, it has to be voted on by the commissioners, and the contract amount hasn't been set yet, according to the Examiner. The TFC will finalize the recommendation during its meeting on Sept. 16.
- The state's border wall project, announced in June by Gov. Greg Abbott (shown above), has received over $300 million in public and private funding so far, with an additional $750 million on the table in new funding, according to the Texas Tribune.
Abbott's emergency declaration in June of a "humanitarian crisis" at the southern border has expedited the process of funding the project, and the border wall is now closer to becoming a reality.
A TFC spokesperson told Construction Dive in July that while the emergency declaration was unusual, the rest of the process would proceed normally. Construction Dive reached out to Huitt-Zollars and Michael Baker, but has not received a response.
The scope of the project is to complete as much of the project in as short a time as possible, across state and private land, according to the TFC.
"In response to the Governor's directive, TFC introduces a strategic initiative in 2021 to construct TBW [Texas Border Wall] segments on state owned, local government owned, and privately owned property from El Paso to the Gulf Coast. The initiative contemplates sequencing multiple phases of development of the unsecured border over multiple years, with a goal to complete as much of the wall as possible in the shortest timeframe," reads the RFP posted by the TFC.
The border wall is being funded by a combination of state and private funds. Abbott secured $250 million in state funding in July, and the project has received $54 million in funding from private donors, though it's unclear who the donors are. Experts are concerned with a lack of transparency, according to the Tribune. On top of this, the Texas House approved an additional $2 billion for border security, of which $750 million will go to the border wall, according to the Tribune.
Construction Dive reported in June about Abbott's dedication to building the wall. It's unclear whether Abbott has the authority to build a wall on his state's southern border, according to NBC News. While some of the land is owned by the federal and state governments, much is also private property, which was an obstacle that former President Donald Trump faced in his efforts to construct a wall. To deal with this, the wall will only be built on land that owners allow construction on, preventing lawsuits, according to reporting by the Examiner.
Nevertheless, Abbott said that action is needed to solve what he called a humanitarian crisis in the state. In recent months the flow of migrants across the U.S. border has risen sharply, according to U.S. News & World Report.
"While securing the border is the federal government's responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows," Abbott said. "This is an unprecedented crisis, and Texas is responding with the most robust and comprehensive border plan the nation has ever seen."