Texas Close to Awarding Border Wall Contract

Texas Close to Awarding Border Wall Contract section of unfinished border wall An unfinished section of border wall is seen on July 01, 2021, in La Joya, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 13 September 2021 07:36 AM

Texas could award a contract to begin barrier construction along a 700-mile stretch of the southern border as early as this week, a state commission said.

The Texas Facilities Commission said in a statement that it planned to award the contract for the border wall project by mid-September, the Washington Examiner reported Monday.

Texas has more than $1 billion in available funding for construction of a barrier along its border with Mexico.

The partnership of Pennsylvania-based Michael Baker International, Inc., and Huitt-Zollars of Dallas was selected as the top candidate for the contract. Four total companies had expressed interest in the contract, the Examiner said.

Once the commissioners vote on the issue, the contract will be awarded in mid-September, the agency said.

The two engineering firms selected have worked on hundreds of miles of completed border wall projects under previous presidential administrations, the Examiner said.

The contract winner will be in charge of managing budgets as well as identifying state land for wall construction, The Texas Tribune reported.

The Texas Senate approved House Bill 9 on Aug. 31 to allocate $1.88 billion toward border security, a move that nearly triples state spending after already approving $1.05 billion earlier this year.

More than half of the money was approved for a border wall and fencing.

GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, who is seeking reelection for a third term next year, led the charge in securing state funds for border security that is no longer being provided by the Biden administration.

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.

Only 150 miles of the 1,250 miles of land Texas shares with Mexico have a substantive barrier, an Examiner analysis discovered. That means Texas is responsible for roughly 1,100 miles of fencing.

Texas has identified 733 miles of border-front land where it can build, and the Texas National Guard will carry out the project, the Examiner said.

All of the land belongs to residents who agreed to assist the state — something that will allow Texas to avoid the lawsuits that held up the Trump administration's efforts to seize private land for construction.