Friday, July 22, 2011

Border-fence website raises more than $80K

Arizona Daily Star
July 22, 2011
by Brady McCombs

More than $80,000 in donations have come in to a website set up to raise money for a state-supported border fence.

Through Thursday at 5 p.m., the website has received donations from 1,837 people for a total of $80,014, said Mike Philipsen, spokesman for Senate Republicans. Donations have come from every state in the union, he said.

The website went live Wednesday at 12:01 p.m. under a bill passed by the Arizona Legislature in April and sponsored by first year Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa. Smith said he won't accept the federal government's stance that there are enough barriers along the border.

More than four-fifths of Arizona's 378 miles of Mexican border have some type of border barrier already. There are 123 miles of pedestrian fences, 12- to 25-foot-high barriers designed to stop, or at least slow down, people. There are another 183 miles of vehicle barriers, waist- to chest-high barricades designed to stop cars.

If donations continue coming in as briskly as they did the first two days, it would take about 130 days to raise enough money - $5.2 million - to build at least two miles of the type of border fence Smith envisions.

Smith said his wish would be to build an 18-foot-high steel beam fence such as the one up along 6.24 miles of border west of the San Pedro River in Cochise County. That fence was built by Kiewit Western Co. under a $16.6 million contract in 2008 - an average of $2.6 million per mile, information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows.

It cost between $2.6 million to $7.4 million per mile to build hundreds of miles of new fencing in Arizona over the last five years. The most recent project, replacing 2.8 miles of old fence in Nogales, cost $4.14 million per mile.

But Smith expects a state-supported fence to cost less because the state would use inmate labor at 50 cents an hour and because he expects competitive bids from construction companies.

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