Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Still no contract for Cameron County border fence

Brownsville Herald
August 12, 2008

By Steve Sinclair, Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN - There is no indication when construction will begin on the Cameron County segment of the border fence.

The major holdup is that a contract to build the section has not been awarded.

"We're still awaiting bids on the fence," said a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Corps of Engineers spokesperson would not speculate on how long it would take to build the Cameron County segment once the bidding process is completed.

Seven companies have been invited to bid on the Cameron County fence, two of them from Texas. But none are from the Rio Grande Valley.

"We have what are called multiple award task order contract companies," the corps spokesperson said. "These companies in the pool are allowed to bid on it (the fence).

"The proposals have been sent out to them and now we're just waiting on the bids," the spokesperson said. "The bids will be reviewed by the contracting personnel."

It was not clear what would happen if bids were considered too high.

As for making the December deadline, the spokesperson said. "I can't speculate on that."

The spokesperson said the Cameron County segment of the fence may not be exactly the same as other parts of the country, including Hidalgo County.

"It depends on the terrain and whether the area is urban or rural," the official said. "There are different variations of the fence."

The spokesperson did say that the exact location of the fence has been settled.

It is not certain whether environmental concerns will be addressed in fence construction. But the official said those concerns have been considered.

"The corps (of engineers) has been very diligent with environmental assessments and is taking into consideration any indigenous wildlife. But the Department of Homeland Security does have the power to waive environmental concerns," the spokesperson said.

Danny Guerra, press secretary for U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz's office, whose constituency includes Cameron County, said the congressman has been given few details of the border barrier.

"They (Department of Homeland Security) have not been in contact with us," Guerra said.

"At the end of the day, we're still opposed to it, but there's nothing legislatively we can do to stop it."


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