UPDATE: Feds extend deadline for Mexico border wall bids
UPDATE: Federal officials have extended the deadline for construction companies to submit their bids from March 29 to April 4 in order to answer questions from potential bidders, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. More than 700 companies have expressed interest in the project, though not all are qualified and not all will submit official bids.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued additional specifications to potential bidders for the design and construction of prototypes for the U.S.–Mexico border wall on March 18, according to USA Today.
- Other than a set of general guidelines — including that the wall must be "physically imposing" at no less than 18 feet with a suggested height of 30 feet — bidders have the freedom to come up with their own designs. The prototypes will be built in San Diego.
- Federal officials have also requested that bidders pick from two options when formulating their prototype proposals — a "reinforced solid concrete" design or a wall constructed of some other material. For both options, the side of the wall facing the U.S. must also be "aesthetically pleasing."
After the submission period ends, officials will take two weeks to narrow the pool down to no more than 20 finalists for the two wall types. Those companies will then have 30 days to present full proposals, which include itemized costs, subcontractor information and a 30-day prototype construction schedule.
More than 640 contractors have expressed interest in the project so far. Although interest in the project is strong, it is likely that not all of the firms that submitted bids are qualified to carry through with the entire process. However, the speed of the bidding process is in line with the government's goal of completing wall construction by 2020.
As part of his 2018 budget proposal, President Donald Trump requested $1.5 billion for 2017 border wall construction costs and $2.6 billion for 2018. Before and after the November presidential election, Trump made several statements that Mexico would ultimately pay for the wall's construction, but there is no mention of that in the budget.
A January Department of Homeland Security report, written before the construction details were released by officials in the last few months, said that the wall could cost as much as $22 billion with a schedule of at least three years. For its estimate, the DHS used a wall that would add to the 654 miles of barriers already in use and would be a mix of wall and fencing.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter