May 16 (UPI) — The Pentagon has awarded more than $ 787 million combined in two contracts for border wall construction and replacement projects in California and Arizona.
The projects are part of the Trump administration’s request in January for $ 5.7 billion in Pentagon assistance for building over 200 miles of new border wall along the southwest U.S.-Mexico border, with the goal to block drug-smuggling corridors across the U.S.-Mexico boundary.
One of the contracts awarded Wednesday was $ 646 million for design and build of border wall in Tucson, Arizona. Southwest Valley Constructors of Albuquerque, N.M., was awarded the project.
The other contract, valued at nearly $ 141.8 million, is for design and build of El Centro Project 1 and Yuma Project 1 vehicle and pedestrian barrier replacement in El Centro, Calif., and Yuma, Ariz. BFBC, LLC of Bozeman, Mont., is the contractor for the project.
Both contracts have an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2020.
The Department of Homeland Security also announced Wednesday that it has issued two waivers to ensure quick and efficient construction of new border wall in El Centro sectors of Arizona and California.
“The projects covered by the waivers include 78 miles of new bollard wall in place of dilapidated and outdated designs, in addition to road construction and improvement and lighting installation,” a DHS statement said.
The El Centro sector is one of four sectors where new pedestrian fencing is requested along with additional lighting. Other sectors include the Yuma and Tucson sectors of Arizona and El Paso.
Last Friday acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the Pentagon authorized another $ 1.5 billion for the the U.S.-Mexico border wall. He told Fox News the funds would go toward building 80 miles of border wall. The money was being shifted from Afghan security forces and other Defense projects.
The fund shift came about a week after the White House asked for $ 4.5 billion in emergency funds for humanitarian assistance and increased security at the border, including $ 3.3 billion in humanitarian assistance and $ 1.1 billion for border operations, along with other funding for patrols.
Earlier in the month Shanahan told Congress that enough funding had been placed on contract to build 256 miles of U.S.-Mexico border wall.
On May 1, the Army Corps rescinded an April border wall contract to Barnard Construction to build more than seven miles of border wall near Yuma, Ariz., admitting it “improperly excluded” companies from bidding.
The Pentagon authorized $ 1 billion to begin building new barriers along the border back in March.
Shanahan recently said there are 4,364 National Guard and active-duty troops on the border.