U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), has awarded a contract to construct approximately 11 miles of new levee wall system in three non-contiguous segments located within U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Sector in Hidalgo County, Texas. The project area begins at the intersection of Conway Road and the U.S. International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) levee in Mission, Texas and extends eastward to approximately one quarter mile west of Stewart Road and the IBWC levee south of San Juan, Texas.
The contract for this project was awarded on August 7, 2019 to Southwest Valley Constructors Co. for the base contract amount of $80,869,000. The total contract value, including options, is $304,600,000. Construction will take place in locations where no barriers currently exist. The levee wall system will be very similar to previously constructed levee wall in the RGV area during 2008, but the system will also include all-weather roads, lighting, enforcement cameras, and other related technology to create a complete enforcement zone. CBP’s designs for levee wall system consist of steel bollards at a minimum height of 18 feet atop a concrete wall to the height of the existing flood levee.
This project is funded by CBP’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 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.
Based on language in CBP’s FY 2019 appropriation, border wall construction will not take place at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Historical Park, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, or the National Butterfly Center.
Additionally, on July 31, 2019, CBP, in partnership with USACE, awarded a contract to construct border wall gates in USBP’s RGV Sector. This contract includes the construction of 25 gates and is funded by CBP’s FY 2017 appropriation. Gate construction includes the installation of automated border wall gates, associated equipment, and site improvements at current openings in the existing barrier in the USBP RGV Sector. The gates will be located off the IBWC levee at the end of or along existing levee ramps. Once installed, the gates will serve as a persistent impediment to smuggling organizations while still allowing access for property owners, USBP, other local/state/federal officials, and local emergency responders. Construction is estimated to begin as early as September 30, 2019, pending the availability of real estate.
RGV is the busiest Sector in the nation and accounts for approximately 40% of the illegal alien apprehensions and, for the FY to date, ranks first in seized cocaine and marijuana along the southwest border. The majority of its activity is occurring in areas where RGV has limited infrastructure, access and mobility, and technology.