CBP announces contract for 4 more miles of steel bollards in Starr County

In this Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, photo, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent passes birdwatchers Rayborn and Nancy Hill along a section of border wall in Hidalgo, Texas. The idea of a concrete wall spanning the entire 1,954-mile southwest frontier collides head-on with multiple realities, like a looping Rio Grande, fierce local resistance, and cost. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced another contract has been awarded for an additional 4 miles of bollard walls in Starr County, according to a news release issued Thursday.

The award comes a month after CBP officials awarded 3 miles of the same kind of wall for the region in late May. This is for an area located 5 miles north of Salineño, and as many miles west of Escobares.

Read the Statement from CBP

The contract, which is for more than $33 million, was awarded to Southwest Valley Constructors on Wednesday, a large-scale construction company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It will be for the construction of steel bollards measuring 18- to 30-feet tall, enforcement roads, detection technology and lighting installation, the release read.

The construction, which is slated to begin in November, is for an area south of Rio Grande City and La Grulla within U.S. Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector, according to CBP.

Construction of the first 3 miles awarded in May are slated to begin in August.

“This project is funded by CBP’s Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Appropriation. It is not a project undertaken pursuant to the National Emergency Declaration, 10 U.S.C § 284, 10 U.S.C. § 2808, nor does it draw from any other source of funding, including appropriations available to the Department of Defense or Department of Treasury,” the statement reads.

CBP officials noted in the release that the project area is not located in any of the communities that require additional consultation with local Starr County elected officials, per the FY19 appropriations.

On a conference call May 24 with members of the media, CBP officials said the 3 miles will be the first of about 53 miles slated for Starr County, which includes appropriations funded in fiscal year 2019.

“We have about 53 miles of requirements in Starr County that we expect to execute with the funding we were provided for in the FY19 appropriations,” the CBP official said at the time.

In early February, heavy equipment arrived in Hidalgo County just days after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials announced that bulldozers and other heavy equipment were going to be arriving, marking the official start of the government’s efforts to build physical barriers along the levees in Mission.

Congress approved border wall funding last March as part of a $1.3 trillion omnibus bill that gave $1.6 billion for border walls along the U.S.-Mexico border, 25 miles of which would be for levee wall fencing in Hidalgo County and 8 or so miles of fencing in Starr County.

Last October, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded SLSCO Ltd a $145 million contract to construct about 6 miles of levee wall system, and a month later it was awarded an additional $167 million for another 8 miles in Alamo, Donna, Weslaco, Progreso and Mercedes.

Construction for border walls in Hidalgo County has yet to begin. During the aforementioned call at the end of May with CBP officials, they noted that construction was to begin “very shortly,” pending the acquisition of real estate.

Though no new border wall barriers have gone up in the Valley as of yet, CBP officials said the next steel panels should be constructed in the next month or two, contingent on the availability of real estate.