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Controversial U.S. border fence to cost $16 million per mile

0 71 Government

by Daily Commercial News

Scrapers and bulldozers have begun filling a deep canyon to make way for a border fence in the southwestern corner of the United States after 12 years of planning, environmental reviews and legal challenges.

San Diego

Scrapers and bulldozers have begun filling a deep canyon to make way for a border fence in the southwestern corner of the United States after 12 years of planning, environmental reviews and legal challenges.

The 3-1/2 mile stretch extends from a state park on an oceanfront cliff through a canyon known as Smuggler’s Gulch.

The gorge was overrun by illegal immigrants until U.S. authorities launched a crackdown in the 1990s that pushed traffic to the remote mountains and deserts of California and Arizona.

At a cost of about US$16 million a mile, the fence will be far more expensive than fences the U.S. government is building elsewhere along the nation’s 1,952-mile border with Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the average cost along the entire border is US$2 million to US$3 million a mile.

The stretch near San Diego will cost about US$57 million under a contract awarded to Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb., said James Swanson, a Border Patrol special operations supervisor.

The lion’s share will pay for filling Smuggler’s Gulch with nearly 1.9 million tons of dirt and for building a concrete culvert to handle rainfall flowing downhill from Tijuana, Mexico, Swanson said.

The border is currently marked by a decaying fence made of surplus Navy landing mats. Border Patrol agents swarm the area in jeeps and pickups as they wait for migrants in Tijuana to dash about 2 miles through trees to the closest patch of stores and homes.

It is a far cry from the early 1990s, when large groups blitzed across the border and easily overwhelmed the Border Patrol.

U.S. authorities insist new fencing is needed, despite an increase in patrols and objections from environmental groups who say the dirt shift threatens the Tijuana River estuary, home to more than 370 migratory and native birds.

Associated Press

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