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Border wall prototypes will be torn down starting Wednesday

The six contractors constructing eight prototype border wall sections in San Diego's Otay Mesa have finished their entries ahead of a news conference announcing the completion of the prototypes on October 26, 2017. (John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

The border wall prototypes that have loomed on the edge of San Diego since early in the Trump administration will be torn down starting Wednesday, according to Customs and Border Protection officials.

The eight bits of wall, each a 30-foot square, will be removed to make way for a border barrier construction project that is replacing 14 miles of secondary fence and adding a little over a mile of new structure. Much of the material from the prototypes will be ground up and used as “fill” in areas along the construction project, according to CBP.

The initial contracts to construct the prototypes included a section for taking them down if CBP decided that was needed, but they would have had to come down sooner than CBP finished testing them, CBP officials said. Instead, the agency is using some of the money allocated for San Diego’s secondary barrier replacement project to fund removal of the walls.

The prototypes, four made of concrete and four of other materials, cost between $300,000 and $500,000 each. Six of them are opaque, unlike the design going up with the construction project, which is made of steel bollards — or posts placed close together that allow agents to see what’s happening on the other side but block people from passing between them.

Border Patrol agents have long asked for barriers that they can see through.

Testing of the prototypes validated aspects of designs that CBP already used, CBP officials said, and has allowed them to add tweaks to newer construction designs.

“We learned a lot from them, but don’t necessarily have a purpose for them anymore,” an official said in a call on background.

The prototypes will come down gradually, officials said. They didn’t expect construction workers to use any demolitions.


© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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