Texas Awards $11M Border Wall Contract (Cedar Attanasio/AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 17 September 2021 10:31 AM
Texas officials on Thursday awarded a contract to oversee construction of a barrier along the southern border, the Texas Tribune reported.
The Texas Facilities Commission approved a contract, worth up to $11 million, for Michael Baker International Inc. and Huitt-Zollars, according to the Tribune.
The two companies will manage budgets, identify state land for wall construction, and find "willing private landowners to facilitate construction," according to the proposal.
Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott announced in June a crowdfunding effort to pay for the wall and other barriers such as fencing. Abbott pledged $250 million in state money to start the project.
This is the first time a state has chosen to install a barrier at an international border. Such projects normally are considered the federal government's responsibility.
The Tribune reported $54 million had been donated by the public as of Aug. 31.
The state legislature sent a bill allocating $1.88 billion in additional funds for border security to Abbott's desk earlier this month. The governor has not signed the bill into law yet, but approximately $750 million of that total will be used to build border barriers.
A total of 733 miles has been identified as maybe needing a wall or other barrier along the state's 1,200-mile border with Mexico.
Michael Baker International Inc., based in Pennsylvania, helped build more than 500 miles of the current 654 miles of barrier along the southern border.
Huitt-Zollars, which has its headquarters in Dallas, has designed Border Patrol stations in Texas and California, according to its website. It also has designed ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border.
The Washington Examiner reported Thursday a group of 123 homeowners agreed to let Texas place 8-foot-tall barbed-wire metal fencing along sections of their properties near the southern border.
It also was reported Thursday a government watchdog said the Department of Homeland Security put employees and border town residents at greater risk of COVID-19 infection by failing to adequately screen migrants.
DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari sent a memo to Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week saying the agency needed to enhance its COVID-19 response at the southern border.