Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Border Agency Fields Pitches for Trump's Wall with Mexico

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Border Agency Fields Pitches for Trump's Wall with Mexico

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO * One bidder wants to cover President Donald Trump's border wall with solar panels. Another suggests building a wall large enough for a deck that would offer tourists scenic views of the desert.

In the competition to build the wall, traditional bids are interspersed with more whimsical ideas.

As Tuesday's deadline for bids passed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to identify bidders or say how many there were, which is standard practice in government contracting. The federal government expects to announce around June 1 which companies will be hired to build prototypes.

Designs must be able to repel pickaxes and sledgehammers for at least an hour and be aesthetically pleasing from the north side.

Trump's multibillion-dollar plan promises potentially big profits but also risks inviting a backlash from people who oppose the project.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico said last week that Mexican companies expressing interest were betraying their country.

"This isn't the kind of project that you'd want to put in your portfolio," said Gene Grabowski, a partner in kglobal, a Washington public-relations firm. "Unlike a dam or bridge, this is one where the risk of being associated with the political philosophy of the administration can be damaging to current and future business."

That did not stop some companies from releasing their plans some traditional, some more imaginative.

Concrete Contractors Interstate proposed a polished concrete wall augmented with stones and artifacts that are tailored to different sections of the 2,000-mile border.

"The idea is to make the wall a piece of art," said Russ Baumgartner, chief executive officer of the San Diego-based company.

Gleason Partners LLC of Las Vegas said its solar panels would generate 2 megawatts of electricity an hour. Both proposals were first reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"For the younger generation, they say if there is going to be a wall, let's have it be green," said Gleason Managing Partner Thomas Gleason.

The other specifications, such as preventing people from digging tunnels beneath the wall, will eliminate some designs immediately. Winners must also have done border security or similar projects worth $25 million or more in the past five years.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details have not been made public said four to 10 bidders are expected to be chosen to build prototypes for $200,000 to $500,000 each. …

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