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74 more miles of border wall set to go up in Arizona, feds say

Privately funded border wall construction headed by "We Build The Wall" near El Paso, Texas in May 2019. (Courtesy of We Build The Wall Inc.)

Another 74 miles of 30-foot tall wall is set to be built on the Arizona-Mexico border, federal officials said on Monday.

Customs and Border Protection officials on Monday asked for public comment on new border wall projects in Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties. These projects are in addition to 63 miles of wall being built in Cochise and Pima counties, as well as other wall projects in Yuma County.

The new wall projects announced Monday will consist of 30-foot tall steel poles, known as bollards, that are 6 inches in diameter, according to CBP. This is the same design used in the projects already underway.

Cochise County will see 32 miles of new construction, including 7 miles of new wall; the replacement of 24 miles of existing pedestrian fencing; and the replacement of 1 mile of secondary barrier. Construction is underway on nearly 20 miles of wall in Cochise County.

In Santa Cruz County, the new projects will run along 27 miles of the border, including 25 miles of new wall and the replacement of 2 miles of existing pedestrian and vehicle barriers. These would be the first projects for the Trump administration’s border wall in Santa Cruz County. The new projects will run along sections of the Coronado National Forest.

Pima County will see 15 miles of wall construction, including 8 miles of new wall and the replacement of 7 miles of pedestrian fence. The new projects will run along sections of the Coronado National Forest and the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

Construction began last year on 43 miles of new wall in Pima County along the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, about 150 miles southwest of Tucson.

The new projects will include a “linear ground detection system, road construction or refurbishment, and the installation of lighting, which will be supported by grid power and include embedded cameras,” CBP said in the announcement.

CBP is seeking input from the public on “potential impacts to the environment, culture, quality of life, and commerce, including potential socioeconomic impacts, for the communities located near the sites where construction is taking place,” according to the announcement.

The projects already underway have drawn criticism for using groundwater in arid wildlife refuges and the destruction of saguaros and other desert vegetation to make way for the wall. The projects also have the potential to cut off migratory routes for wildlife and damage one of the last free-flowing rivers in Arizona. The project on Organ Pipe came under fire recently after contractors used explosives to break apart underground rock on Monument Hill, an area considered sacred by the Tohono O’odham Nation.

The announcement this week did not include estimated costs to build the 74 miles of wall. For the 63 miles of wall already underway, $1.3 billion in contracts were awarded.


© 2020 The Arizona Daily Star