State agency awards $11 million contract to oversee construction of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Texas-Mexico border wall

A section of the border wall in La Joya on Aug. 15, 2021.
A section of the border wall in La Joya on Aug. 15, 2021.

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

State officials awarded a contract on Thursday to oversee construction of a barrier along the Texas-Mexico border to a joint venture between a design firm and an engineering firm.

The Texas Facilities Commission voted to approve the contract, worth up to $11 million, for Michael Baker International Inc. and Huitt-Zollars to manage budgets, identify state land for wall construction and find “willing private landowners to facilitate construction,” according to the request for proposal.

In June, Gov. Greg Abbott, who has been a critic of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies, announced a crowdfunding effort to pay for the wall and other barriers such as fencing. Abbott pledged $250 million in state money to start the effort.

As of Aug. 31, $54 million has been donated by the public, and earlier this month the state Legislature sent a bill allocating $1.88 billion in additional funds for border security to Abbott’s desk. Of those funds, $750 million will be used to build border barriers. The governor has not yet signed the bill into law.

Abbott’s office has previously said it identified 733 miles that may need some type of barrier along the state’s 1,200-mile border with Mexico.

Michael Baker International Inc., which is headquartered in Pennsylvania, has four offices in Texas, in Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio, according to its website. The engineering firm, which was previously called Michael Baker Corp., helped build more than 500 miles of the current 654 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Huitt-Zollars, whose corporate office is in Dallas, has designed Border Patrol stations in Texas and California, according to its website. It has also designed ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border.

Join us Sept. 20-25 at the 2021 Texas Tribune Festival. Tickets are on sale now for this multi-day celebration of big, bold ideas about politics, public policy and the day’s news, curated by The Texas Tribune’s award-winning journalists. Learn more.