New border wall quietly under construction in Starr County

8 months 4 days 3 hours ago Tuesday, April 04 2023 Apr 4, 2023 April 04, 2023 8:41 AM April 04, 2023 in News - Local

Border wall bollards, heavy machinery and construction field offices are being amassed in a corner of Starr County. Standing on top of the rolling hills off Old Business 83, you can see construction currently underway.

Signs point to this project being funded by the State of Texas. Contractors have carved a long patrol road parallel to the river. Border wall bollards are stacked in a construction yard. Other bollards are now standing.

A Border Patrol spokesperson said the agency is not involved in border wall construction in this area. State contract records show the Texas Facilities Commission recently paid for land use rights.

This site is located 6 and a half miles northwest of the city of Roma. Public notices have not been issued.

The Biden administration halted most wall construction after taking office. Border wall construction continued on a limited basis, focusing on projects that addressed safety and flood control. Those construction projects have been seen along the Valley's flood levees.

The new Starr County construction is happening in open country, not along flood levees, following Texas' pattern for where to build walls.

Two miles upriver at the Salineño wildlife preserve, Executive Director Debralee Rodriguez said the state contacted her to request rights to survey the land. She said the refuge's board declined that request.

The Texas Facilities Commission will not confirm if the Starr County site is a state wall project. 

"Specific project work locations are not being released at this time," said commission spokesperson Francoise Luca.

But the Commission did set aside a large fund for wall construction in Starr County. 

"Totaling $307 million," said Commission Executive Director Mike Novak at an October meeting.  "That represents approximately 15 miles of wall in multiple locations in Starr and Valverde counties."

Last year, the state completed a 1.7 mile section of wall in Starr County near La Grulla.

Texas has signed at least $800 million in border wall contracts since the effort started in 2021. During his last visit to the Los Indios border wall site in January, Governor Greg Abbott said the state is still looking to build, and buy land rights from private property owners.

"We are hoping that landowners in this region will allow us to build a wall on their property, so we can just continue to make this a continuous wall," Abbott said.

Watch the video above for the full story.

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