Government donates leftover border wall materials to Texas

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The federal government has donated at least $6 million in leftover border wall materials to Texas, which will use them for the state’s plan to build its own wall.

Materials purchased with federal tax money were donated to this effort despite the fact that on his first day in office, President Joe Biden declared that no more US taxpayer money would be used to build a border wall.

The donated materials are part of a federal effort to remove an estimated $265 million in leftover walls from inactive construction sites along the US-Mexico border.

Most materials go to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson for processing.

After that, the material will eventually be offered to federal, state, and local agencies as well as nonprofit organizations for sale or donation, depending on the entity. The Texas donation was the largest to date.

The Davis-Monthan Defense Logistics Agency has been receiving truckloads of supplies for weeks. They had been crowded along the border, including in the southern Arizona desert, for more than a year since Biden halted construction of the federal wall by the Trump administration when he took over. its functions.

Davis-Monthan had received 242 trucks by Feb. 4 and is expected to receive up to 950, said Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, spokesman for the Department of Defense.

Materials are to be or are currently being transferred from border barrier construction sites in the Tucson, Yuma and San Diego Border Patrol Sectors to Defense Logistics Agencies in Davis-Monthan and two sites in California. One of the California agencies is in Barstow, which is expected to receive a potential 250 trucks, and the other is in Camp Pendleton, Mitchell said.

Among the materials transferred are 1,757 bollard panels for wall construction that the federal government donated to the Texas State Agency for Surplus Property, Mitchell said.

In December, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott launched construction of the Texas border wall in Rio Grande City.

On Feb. 10, the Texas Facility Commission, which operates the agency for surplus property and oversees the state’s border wall project, announced that it had received the prefabricated federal border signs.

The bollards are valued at $6 million “during the donation phase,” Mitchell said.

The government did not specify the value of the panels when they were purchased, but the wall projects, which varied widely across the U.S.-Mexico border, cost about $8.2 million per mile at the bottom of the ladder.

Many steel bollards are filled with concrete and rebar, which could make it difficult to recycle the steel and reduce its value, according to the Atlantic article. Although the process is still in its early stages, the government hasn’t encountered any issues with the concrete-filled bollards, Mitchell said.

The cost of federal wall projects ranged from approximately $8.2 million per mile in the El Paso, Texas area to $49 million per mile near El Centro, California, based on an Arizona Daily Star analysis of Army Corps data.

The variation in costs is due to the different site conditions, some with difficult terrain, as well as the fact that the amenities of the different projects varied, such as the height of the wall panels or the type of security systems.

When construction stopped, the day Biden took office, everything that was already purchased and on site remained there, said Jay Field, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers. Materials were bundled and discarded at various sites near the wall, including near Guadalupe Canyon and Sasabe in Arizona.

The Department of Defense would only say that materiel under the control of the Army Corps of Engineers – the contractor for many border barrier projects – was “properly stored and secured”, when repeatedly asked for details of how the materials were protected from the elements. At some of these sites, anyone could walk to the materials, which lay in the desert with no sign of safety or shelter.

Materials include PVC conduit, fiber optic cable, electrical supplies, security cameras and associated specialty supplies, steel bollard panels, steel mesh, steel rebar, streetlights , crushed aggregates, treated rockfill, treated sand and drainage related materials.

Materials are being coordinated for the transfer of the 22 border wall construction projects that have been funded by the Department of Defense, which received the majority of border wall funding. The sites span all four border states, including the Border Patrol areas of San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso and Del Rio.

When Biden halted construction, none of those 22 projects were complete. But in 14 of them, contractors had finished installing wall panels, according to data provided by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Contractors first focused on installing signs, followed by things like paving roads and installing lighting or security systems, Field said.

Of the 11 projects in Arizona, only three were halted before the panels were completed, in the Tucson area near the border towns of Sasabe and Naco, and in the Yuma area to the west.

Unfinished projects at the Tucson sector border were among the most expensive in the nation, costing $27.3 million to $30 million per mile, according to analysis of corps data.

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