SAN DIEGO — Federal construction workers Wednesday were dismantling east county prototypes of President Donald Trump’s signature wall to make room for new secondary fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“At this point, we have learned a lot from them, but we don’t necessarily have a purpose or use for them anymore, and we will be bringing them down,” said the official.
Construction crews are in the process of replacing roughly 12 miles of fencing, stretching inland from Border Field State Park past the San Ysidro Port of Entry. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a waiver earlier this month to expedite the process of replacing the existing barrier with 30- foot bollard fencing.
In April 2017, CBP awarded contracts totaling more than $3 million for eight prototypes to six different companies. The agency completed its testing and evaluation last October. Construction on the wall still hasn’t begun in earnest beyond the prototypes, many of which were porous, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A September report from CBP found that the eight prototypes were breached in some way in at least 13 places when tested by U.S. Special Operations Command and the Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
The official said that even though CBP is prohibited by Congress from using the prototype designs in most of its new wall projects, they used the testing and evaluation to validate previous designs.
“What it did not preclude us from doing, first of all, was learning from those prototypes,” said the CBP official.
Previous CBP construction methods such as internal hardening (inside the steel posts) and anti-climb features were validated by the testing, said the official.
“Those are not things that the [congressional] language necessarily precludes and they’re items that we have been able to add to our tool kit,” added the official.
Some reports have suggested the prototypes didn’t do well in tests conducted by breaching experts, though the results haven’t been made public.
The prototypes are in the same footprint as the San Diego secondary replacement barrier project, which began last week. CBP had the option to leave the prototypes up and build around them, but the agency decided that the steel-bollard wall is “the most effective design in that location.”
The prototypes will be “taken down gradually” and the material will be recycled by being “ground down” and used in a San Diego secondary construction project.
None of the companies that built the prototypes are currently building portions of the wall on the southern border, according to the official.