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Feds: Wind Damage Did Not Halt Border Barrier Project

CALEXICO — Construction of a replacement border barrier going up east of Calexico near Bowker Road was only briefly disrupted when high winds on Jan. 29 partially collapsed a short portion of it, a federal official said.

The Calexico area is getting 26 miles of barrier consisting of steel posts up to 30 feet high. 

“The section of panels that were impacted during the high winds last week were recovered that same day (Wednesday, 1/29) and construction continued in that area,” according to a Feb. 4 email from Agent Carlos Pitones, of the public affairs office of the U.S. Border Patrol El Centro Sector.

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“This section did consist of the bollard style fencing approximately 2.5 miles east of the downtown (Calexico) Port of Entry,” he added.

The damage occurred between 11 a.m. and noon on Jan. 29 when a section of braced panels that had been erected into freshly poured concrete that morning came down while the contractor was on site, Pitones previously reported. The concrete was not yet cured.

Winds on that day in the area were reported in excess of 30 miles per hour.

The damage made national news and was reported on the website of the international news network, CNN. The Calexico-area segments of new barrier have been among those frequently touted by President Donald J. Trump as proof he is keeping his 2016 campaign promise to build a border “wall.”

The sections in Calexico replace shorter barriers that had been in place for decades.

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There are two current “Border Wall Projects” underway in the Calexico area, Pitones added.

They include a 15-mile project covering an area along the border from nine miles west of the downtown Calexico Port of Entry to 24 miles west of the port. It is 65 percent complete (10.4 miles) as of Feb. 4.

Work began in May 2019 and scheduled completion is December 2020. The contractor is BFBC, LLC.

Another 11-mile project covers an area along the border from nine miles west of the downtown port to four miles east of the port. The wind damage occurred in this section. It is 69 percent complete (7.8 miles) as of Feb. 4.

Work began in May 2019 and scheduled completion is October 2020. The contractor is SLS Co. Ltd. This segment does not include the 2.2 miles of barrier completed in 2018.

The city of Calexico has not recently been given an update on the barrier projects, City Manager David Dale said Jan. 31.

As for the downed section near Bowker, it was not immediately available how many linear feet of barrier fell but it was all braced together while the concrete was curing and setting, Pitones explained. No other segment was believed to have been affected and no one was injured when the panels partially came down, he added.

Although the seemingly “breached” section of barrier made for a good show across social media and through national and international news reports, it did not affect border security, Pitones stated. There is customarily a heavier detail of Border Patrol agents in the immediate vicinity of construction as sections of the old barrier  come down and new go up, he explained.

Some news photos showed a section of the barrier partially collapsed toward the Mexican side of the border.


This story is featured in the Feb 06, 2020 e-Edition. Co-written by Gary Brown

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