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Private border securityVolunteers and cash pour in for private border fence

Published 29 December 2011

Donations and volunteers continue to pour in for a privately funded fence along the U.S.– Mexico border in Arizona, according to Republican state legislator Steve Smith

Donations and volunteers continue to pour in for a privately funded fence along the U.S.– Mexico border in Arizona, according to Republican state legislator Steve Smith.

Smith recently toldfellow lawmakers that so far more than 5,000 people have made donations to the private fence fund for a total of roughly $300,000.

The funds raised are not enough to build much of a fence, but Smith said contractors have stepped forward and greatly reduced their prices to help make this project a reality.

We have a manufacturer who can do a (pedestrian) fence at $426,000 a mile, from every last nut, bolt and screw that goes into it, which is significantly, significantly under cost,” Smith said.

That amount only covers the cost of materials, but Smith said he believes a separate firm will install the fence at a minimal cost, potentially bringing the projects total to $500,000 a mile.

In contrast Chris Rogers, a construction manager for Granite Construction, which has built border fences for the U.S. government in Arizona, said pedestrian fences, like the one Smith has in mind, cost between $2.5 million to $16.5 million a mile for labor alone.

Mike Tatusko, a project manager with Granite Construction, echoed Rogers’s thoughts adding that building a border fence is no simple task as terrain and access must be factored in.

As an example, Tatusko pointed to a 3.5 mile stretch of fence that also required the construction of a road along the border for patrolling which included five bridges. In addition because the fence was in a remote location, portable concrete plants were brought in for construction, resulting in costs of $16.5 million a mile.

It’s just a factor of the terrain and the conditions,” he said.

Rogers did note that pedestrian fences can be built for less with one eleven-mile fence costing about $3.5 million a mile which included the cost of materials.

Smith remains optimistic, despite these estimates, believing that volunteers will step forward to help reduce costs. He believes that the state can build border fence for a tenth of what the federal government has had to pay contractors.