DHS to perform enhancements, repairs on portions of border wall

DHS to perform enhancements, repairs on portions of border wall

Phil Puccio

Dive Brief:

  • The Department of Homeland Security announced on Monday that it would begin performing maintenance and emergency repairs on areas of the unfinished border wall with Mexico that runs along Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of canceling all federal projects related to the wall, which was a major initiative of former President Donald Trump’s administration. As a result, all unfinished wall projects are being turned over to DHS.
  • The fixes, according to the release, are urgent and related to “life, safety, environmental or other remediation required to protect border communities.” DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dive Insight:

The maintenance work has been authorized in the U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso and Del Rio sectors, with most of the work occurring in the Tucson, Arizona, area. Maintenance needs vary from sector to sector. Work that will be conducted includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Completing and installing drainage to prevent flooding.  
  • Installing and completing permanent erosion control and slope stabilization measures to ensure the safety and stability of structures in the region.  
  • Completing prior construction of patrol, maintenance and access roads by adding guardrails and signs, and integrating existing roadways to address safety concerns. 
  • Remediating temporary use areas such as laydown yards, haul roads and project areas impacted by construction. 
  • Disposing of residual materials not required for completion of the work.   
  • Closing small gaps that remain open from prior construction activities and remediating incomplete gates.

Rescue gates, which first responders use to access waterways around the wall when the water is at high levels, will also be fixed.

Million-dollar contracts

DHS announced in April that it would be looking into the effects of the border wall on local populations and combating hazards created by the projects, such as erosion in San Diego Sector and repairing damage to the Rio Grande Valley’s flood barrier system.

Project contractors have lost a lot of money from the cancellation. In July, DHS cancelled two contracts, and in October, DHS cancelled the remaining contracts in the Border Patrol’s Laredo Sector in Webb County, Texas, and in the Rio Grande Sector.

Among the contracts in Laredo were a $280 million deal to build approximately 27 miles of wall that was awarded to Dickinson, North Dakota-based Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. Also nixed was a $201 million contract for approximately 13 miles of construction awarded to Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Southwest Valley Constructors. 

Both projects were scheduled to begin in September, but were frozen as part of President Joe Biden’s first acts in office, which included stopping all border wall builds.

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