McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Texas Facilities Commission on Thursday approved a $137 million contract to a Texas company to continue building the state’s border wall, at less money than recently awarded to a private border wall builder.
This is the fifth contract to be awarded for the state-funded border barrier. Contracts now include building over 31.7 miles of new border wall along the Texas-Mexico border, all in South Texas.
But TFC officials said Thursday that they don’t anticipate awarding any more contracts until more funds are appropriated by the Texas Legislature, which just began a new session.
Texas-based Sullivan Land Services Company (SLSCO), of Galveston, on Thursday was awarded the contract to build 6.62 miles in Webb and Zapata counties, near Laredo, Texas.
Not all of the land has been acquired, but TFC Executive Director John Raff told commissioners in Austin the agency has “a high degree of confidence” that they will be able to obtain the land. The land is divided into two tracts: One is less than a mile long; the other is 5.64 miles.
On Jan. 4, commissioners approved awarding Fisher Sand & Gravel Company $224 million to build 9.4 miles of border wall in Webb County, the largest contract to date. Tommy Fisher, CEO of the company, built a 3-mile private border wall in Mission, Texas, that according to reports is at risk of falling into the Rio Grande.
Fisher’s contract is valued at about $25 million per mile.
SLSCO’s contract is significantly less, at $20.7 million per mile.
Commissioners on Thursday did not discuss costs or the exact location of the placement of the new border wall.
Laredo City Councilmember Melissa Cigarroa has told Border Report that the wall is expected to be built through the tiny low-income border towns of El Cenizo and Rio Bravo, which each have a population of fewer than 5,000, in Webb County. She accuses state officials are “preying” on poor residents by offering $18,000 for land easements, which is equal to nearly an entire year’s salary for most of these families.
Border Report has reached out to Zapata County officials to find out where placement of the wall will be in that rural county east of Laredo. This story will be updated if additional information is received.
Commissioners said this is the fifth and final contract to be awarded with funds appropriated by the Texas Legislature, so far. To date, 1.7 miles of border wall have been built in Starr County. Construction for that began in late 2021.
With Thursday’s vote, TFC has authorized a total of nearly $900 million in border wall contracts. And $55 million has been collected in private donations.
Pending wall projects so far include:
- 7 more miles to be built in Starr County
- 7 miles to be built in Val Verde County near Del Rio
- 9.4 miles to be built in Webb County
- 6.6 miles to be built in Webb and Zapata counties
The state has appropriated $4 billion for border security, which includes funding the state’s border wall. But Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he wants to build hundreds of miles of border wall to keep out illegal immigration.
Lawmakers with the 88th Texas Legislature just started the session on Jan. 10.
Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, on Wednesday filed a budget bill, SB 1, which if approved would include $4.6 billion in additional funds for border security for the 2024-2025 biennium. If passed, border law enforcement also would get pay raises.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com