Border wall work yet to begin as start date passes
The Trump administration has yet to award contracts to build prototypes of a US-Mexico border wall, even though construction was originally scheduled to begin this week in San Diego, public records show.
While money for a full wall along the 3000-kilometre border has not been approved, Congress did allocate US$20 million for prototypes that attracted hundreds of bidders from across the country.
Homeland Security had planned to begin construction on four to eight 10-metre-tall prototypes on Friday near Otay Mesa. Customs and Border Protection said no contracts had been awarded.
Border Protection spokesman Rick Pauza confirmed yesterday that bids were still being reviewed but that prototype designs ‘‘will be selected for construction in summer 2017’’.
The agency declined to say what had caused the delay, when bids would be awarded, if San Diego was still the starting location, or if the names of contract winners would be released.
The agency also would not say if it had reviewed options for a wall using solar panels, an idea recently promoted by President Donald Trump.
At least one person who knows about solar has researched Trump’s idea already and says taxpayers would never be repaid the cost of such a wall.
Gordon Johnson, an analyst at Axiom Capital Management, wrote in a research note that a 12m wall with 13.3 million solar panels could generate US$221 million a year. Without adjusting for inflation, the cost could be paid back in 125 years using the US$20 billion cost estimate from Homeland Security. However, when adjusted for inflation and the time value of money, taxpayers would never be able to recoup the cost, because after year 58, profit would decrease by at least US$1m a year.