Contractors to begin surveying new levee wall site Monday

In this file photo, a worker constructs a section of the border levee fence on Feb. 4, 2009, at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse and World Birding Center in Hidalgo. Last week, Congress approved an Omnibus spending bill that sets aside $1.6 billion for border wall-related funds in the Rio Grande Valley including 25 miles of border wall in Hidalgo County and eight miles in Starr County.

Government contractors will begin conducting geotechnical surveys Monday along the International Boundary Water Commission (IBWC) levee between Abram and Mission, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced in a news release Friday.

The surveys are scheduled to be completed within a week and are on the site of the first levee wall segment in Hidalgo County, which is slated to begin construction in February of next year. The wall will cut through the National Butterfly Center, Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and the historic La Lomita Chapel.

Contractors hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take soil samples to identify soil properties and characteristics, according to the release, which notes CBP has been planning for construction of this levee border wall system since 2017.

CBP and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $145 million contract to Galveston-based SLS Co. Ltd. on Oct. 31 for approximately six miles of new levee wall system in Hidalgo County, according to a previous CBP news release.

Dubbed RGV-03, the project will include a reinforced concrete levee wall built to the height of the existing IBWC levee and 18-feet tall steel beams, called bollards, installed on top of the concrete wall.

The agency will also remove vegetation along a 150-foot enforcement zone around the wall in order to install lighting, video surveillance, other detection technology and a patrol road.

In order to expedite border wall construction in the Rio Grande Valley, the Department of Homeland Security waived 28 federal laws that are designed to protect the environment. Earlier this month the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge by environmental groups to the waiving of these laws.