Contractors Shortlisted for Border Wall Work

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2019

In the latest update to the U.S.-Mexico border wall saga, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently shortlisted 12 contractors to bid on construction work sometime during the next five years; the Pentagon moved $1.5 billion to assist with border wall construction; and a previously contested contract, worth $187 million, has been canceled due to the protest.

The work in question for the shortlisted contractors is located in the El Centro, Yuma, San Diego and the Tucson border sectors, as well as the Army Corps’ South Pacific and Southwestern divisions. The contracts are worth up to $5 billion total.

Border Wall Saga

In September 2017, the first border wall contracts were awarded to four different companies to develop prototypes that would work in conjunction with the border in the San Diego area. U.S. special forces spent weeks attempting to breach the eight prototype models of the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, which proved to withstand jackhammers, torches and climbing tools.

Since then, the government has worked to speed up the project. In March 2018, Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled that the Department of Homeland Security was not overstepping its bounds by expediting border wall construction and waiving environmental rules in the process. The suit had threatened to stall work in Calexico, where a stretch of fence was being replaced, and could have delayed the larger border-wall project.

In October 2018, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that any environmental regulations regarding the construction or repair of a section of the U.S.-Mexico border wall for certain areas in Texas would be waived, drawing ire from environmentalists and private property owners alike. The announcement detailed exemptions in Cameron County; another announcement made the following day detailed similar measures for Hidalgo County.

And in December 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the beginning of construction of a series of border wall gates in the Rio Grande Valley sector.

But in January, a report revealed that all eight border wall prototypes, inspected by Presdient Donald J. Trump last March, were susceptible to breaching. Several million in other contracts for other border wall work had also been awarded elsewhere. In March, the border wall prototypes were demolished.

Fisher Sand & Gravel's CEO claimed last month that his company could build 234 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, including the wall, paved roads and border technology, along with a warranty, for $1.4 billion. However, earlier this month, after Fisher failed to win the nearly $1 billion in contracts from the latest round of national emergency-appropriated funding, it filed a protest with the U.S. General Accounting Office criticizing the selection process, calling it flawed.

Border Wall Contract Rescinded

According to the Washington Examiner, at the beginning of this month, the Corps informed the Government Accountability Office's lawyers of its decision to reevaluate its choice to grant Barnard Construction Co. a $187 million contract. The contract covered building roughly seven miles of steel bollard fence near Yuma, Arizona.

Alexandria P. Tramel, assistant district counsel within the Corps, noted in communication to Government Accountability Office's Jonathan L. Kang that the agency had chosen “to take corrective action to remedy a flaw in the acquisition process.”

The Corps also sought to explain its attempts in 2017 to create a list of construction companies that prequalified for projects in California, New Mexico and Texas, but not Arizona. The solicitation process was then opened up for the work in Yuma for the companies interested in the first three states. The total number of bids and if companies were allowed to bid (or not) remains unclear.

The Corps, which has confirmed that Fisher’s complaint that the company was “improperly” excluded from bidding, has also asked Fisher to remove its complaint regarding the Yuma work, since that contract has been canceled.

$1.5 Billion in Funding

The Pentagon is also planning to move $1.5 billion in funding from Afghan security force support to the construction of 80 miles of border wall. Congress was notified of the move May 10. This makes $2.5 billion in funding made available to date.

According to The Associated Press, the Pentagon is anticipating to move around $6.1 billion to go toward the border wall, $3.6 billion of which will be funding from military construction projects. Some project delays are a likely result, though which projects will be impacted have yet to be determined. Pentagon spokesperson Tom Crosson also noted that the $1.5 billion will go toward fence replacement around Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, Texas.

The largest part of the funding, $604 million, comes from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, $251 million comes from a project to destroy lethal chemical agents, $344 million is coming from a group of Air Force programs and $224 million is being taken from savings connected to a military retirement system. Another $78 million is being taken from a fund to reimburse coalition partners for military support.

Contractors Shortlisted

Though one contract was rescinded, the Corps has also shortlisted 12 contractors to bid on horizontal construction work within the next five years. The contractors include: BFBC (Bozeman, Montana); Texas Sterling Construction Co. (Houston); Bristol Construction Services LLC (Anchorage, Alaska); Burgos Group LLC (Albuquerque, New Mexico); Gibraltar-Caddell JV (Montgomery, Alabama); Fisher Sand & Gravel (Dickinson, North Dakota); Southwest Valley Constructors Co. (Albuquerque); Randy Kinder Excavating Inc. (Dexter, Missouri); Martin Brothers Construction (Sacramento, California); SLSCO Ltd. (Galveston, Texas); Posillico Civil Inc. Coastal Environmental Group Inc. (Farmingdale, New York); and CJW JV (Santa Ana, California).

These contracts, which are both design-build and design-bid-build, includes work on barriers, lighting, patrol roads, levee walls and other work.


Tagged categories: Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; Lawsuits; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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