Administration awards $1.3 billion border wall contract to firm favored by Trump
A North Dakota construction company that previously was praised by President Trump has been awarded a $1.3 billion border wall contract by the administration, the largest border wall contract the federal government has issued.
Fisher Sand and Gravel, the winning firm, will be constructing wall on a 42-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border south of Tucson, Ariz., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson Raini Brunson told The Washington Post.
“Each project cost is contingent upon its unique characteristics such as geotechnical, topographical, hydrological and hydraulic, underground utilities, final real estate access, and the cost of materials and labor,” Brunson said.
Brunson added that the contract — dubbed Tucson Package 3 — presents “a series of projects within a geographical area with more complex terrain.” The spokesperson explained that per corps policies the contract, officially priced at $1.275 billion, went to the lowest-priced feasible bid.
Trump previously voiced praise for Fisher Sand and Gravel. According to the Post, the company has donated to Trump’s GOP allies and networked with key people within his sphere. Its CEO, Tommy Fisher, also paid lobbyists to discuss the wall with lawmakers and touted the firm’s design on news outlets often watched by Trump, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
The company has one other major border wall contract, for $400 million, that’s currently under investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general. The federal watchdog confirmed to the Post that the review was still in process. It began after congressional Democrats voiced concerns that the White House exerted inappropriate influence on the bidding process.
The president has continuously advocated for the construction of a border wall — one of his main campaign promises — and has reportedly pushed for the Army Corps to paint it black, an additional task that adds at least another $500 million to the project.
He has asserted that the black paint would allow the wall to absorb more heat from the sun, making it even harder for those attempting to cross the border illegally to climb the wall, the Post reported. However, according to the newspaper, the Army Corps has said the paint would increase the wall’s long-term maintenance and actually decrease its ability to hold heat.
The White House declined the Post’s request for comment. The Hill also reached out to the White House for comment.
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