Repairs to downed border fence top $700,000

Astrid Galvan
Associated Press

Tucson, Ariz. — The federal government spent over $700,000 to repair part of a steel border fence that was knocked down by debris from a rainstorm last summer.

Repairs on the 60 feet of rebar-reinforced fencing in Nogales, Arizona, were completed in December, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection released the cost of the repairs this month after a request by The Associated Press.

Agents discovered the downed fence in July after heavy rain in Nogales, Mexico, caused debris to build up against the fence, toppling it. The fence stood between 18 and 26 feet high and extended at least 7 feet underground. It was built in 2011.

The cost to clean up and repair the fence was $730,000. Workers from KBR, a contracting company based in Texas, had to wait several weeks to begin repairs because the soil was wet from ongoing rains, Border Patrol spokeswoman Nicole Ballistrea said last year.

The debris, which included tree trunks, was so heavy that it crossed into Nogales, Arizona, damaging businesses and mobile homes near the border. City officials last year said they planned on suing Customs and Border Protection, the parent agency of the Border Patrol, accusing the agency of failing to open floodgates that would have prevented such strong runoff. But city attorney Julia Holman said Nogales is no longer pursuing that effort.

Arizona Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said the cost of the repairs was too high and that they took too long to be completed. “It sounds like our federal government is not as assiduous as it should be,” said Smith, a proponent of tighter border security.