By Noi Mahoney of FreightWaves,
Texas is filling gaps in its U.S.-Mexico border security plan by repurposing shipping containers. The shipping containers began being deployed in late October as barriers along portions of the U.S.-Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas, according to officials.
“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed state agencies … to begin placing large storage containers end to end at low-level water crossings to physically block any illegal immigrants from entry,” Renae Eze, Abbott’s spokeswoman, said in an email to FreightWaves.
Eze said the state is also deploying thousands of National Guard soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers, using vehicles as barriers and putting up additional razor wire across the southern border. Eze deferred questions about how the shipping containers were obtained and how many were being deployed to DPS, which did not respond to questions from FreightWaves before publication.
Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, said Abbott has found a resourceful way to curb migrant crossings by strategically placing the containers to channel migrants into areas where more police and Border Patrol agents are available.
“It’s a tool that the governor is using to try to help slow down, curb this invasion,” Nehls said in an interview Thursday on Fox News.
Abbott has said that barriers are needed for about 733 miles of Texas’ 1,200-mile border with Mexico. The state has not completed any permanent portions of the border wall, but some sections could be up as soon as the end of December. Abbott signed into law a nearly $1.8 billion border security funding bill on Sept. 16, which will nearly triple the amount the Lone Star State spends on border defense over the next two years. The bill includes up to $750 million for construction of a Texas-Mexico border wall.
The state of Texas also recently awarded an $11 million border wall construction program management contract to a joint venture of Pittsburgh-based engineering consultant Michael Baker International and Dallas-based design firm Huitt-Zollars.
State officials have also shortlisted five candidate firms to design and build the border wall — BFBC of Texas; Fisher Sand & Gravel Co.; Posillico Civil Inc.; SLSCO; and Southwest Valley Constructors Co.
Francoise Luca, a spokeswoman for the Texas Facilities Commission, said there is no timetable for naming the construction contract winners.