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Remediation work continues at Az's border wall construction sites

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has continued remediation work along two sections of the border wall near Yuma, Ariz., cleaning up the remnants of construction left by contractors during the last days of the Trump administration's rush to complete building the boundary barrier.

The Corps said that it began remediation efforts on July 15 at the construction sites named Yuma 2 and Yuma 10/27 along the U.S.-Mexico border where BFBC, LLC, a part of Barnard Construction based in Bozeman, Mont., worked to put up 33 miles of border wall at a cost of $419.6 million, funded from money siphoned from military construction projects.

Photos shared by the Corps of Engineers on Monday showed a bulldozer removing scrap along a recently constructed "secondary wall" that backs a large primary fence that includes 30-foot high metal "bollards."

At the end of April, the Biden administration said it would cancel border wall projects, a long-expected move after President Joe Biden said in January that he would hit "pause" on Trump's central campaign issue.

The projects, located in the Yuma Sector—which straddles the Colorado River and includes Arizona's Yuma County—included 31 miles of new "secondary" fencing under a contract worth up to $527 million, as well as replacement of around 2 miles of pedestrian fencing near a rocky outcropping that cost up to $40 million.

Much of the work was undertaken along the edge of the Barry M. Goldwater bombing range, a 1.9 million-acre expanse of desert in the southwestern part of Arizona that touches a section of the border with Mexico.

One project, referenced as Yuma 10/27, was completed on Dec. 21, 2020, during the rush of border wall construction as the Trump administration headed toward its end.

As the federal government moved swiftly to build as much of Trump's promised wall as possible, then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper ordered the Defense Department to siphon nearly $3.6 billion from military construction efforts to the border. This included earmarks to replace nearly 64 miles of border wall in the Yuma Sector alone, worth more than $1.1 billion, but one project was cancelled before construction began.

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The Trump administration had planned to complete 175 miles of construction using defense funds, but ultimately built about 87 miles, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Overall, the Trump administration sought funds to build 738 miles of new border barriers at a total cost of $18.5 billion, completing about 452 miles using a combination of funds from Homeland Security, money from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, and Defense Department funding.

The Corps of Engineers itself awarded 22 contracts worth an estimated $7.55 billion to build or replace around 391 border barriers, the majority of the construction along Arizona's border with Mexico.

The Corps of Engineers said that the remediation work would not involve expanding the border barrier, rather the agency would focus on "filling open trenches, cutting and capping conduit, making gate foundations safe, making maintenance roads safe, and grading around handholds and manholes."

"These limited activities are specific life and health safety measures consistent with the Administration’s plans to terminate the redirection," of Defense Department funds for a border wall, the Corps of Engineers said.

Around Jan. 4, 2021, there was about 21 miles of border wall under construction, and around 224 miles of wall had been extended across the U.S.-Mexico border. This includes about 20 miles under construction in the Tucson Sector, and just a single mile of wall in the Yuma Sector. Overall, about 199 miles were under construction, and another 87 miles of wall were in pre-construction phases, CBP said.

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Army Corps of Engineers

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Border District contractor removes construction debris at the Yuma 10/27 former wall construction site near Yuma, Arizona, July 19. The District began safety work on July 15 at the Yuma 2 and Yuma 10/27 former wall construction sites in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Yuma sector.

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