Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Thursday that four vendors have been selected to design and build prototypes for the U.S.-Mexico border wall that has been a priority of the Trump administration.
Each of the companies is tasked with building one wall prototype made of "reinforced concrete" along the border in San Diego. Next week, CBP will decide on up to four more vendors that will be selected to build wall prototypes that are made of non-concrete materials.
In March, CBP issued two separate requests for proposals to begin evaluating what types of industry innovation in wall technology are potentially available to the agency.
"These prototypes, which are intended to deter illegal crossings, will help us refine the design standards and security requirements that will meet the needs of U.S Border Patrol," said acting Deputy Commissioner Ron Vitiello during a press briefing on the wall.
The prototypes will be designed to be 30 feet long and up to 30 feet high and will be in close proximity to each other. Testing will examine ascetics, as well as the breaching and scaling potential.
Once the prototypes are built, there will be between 30 and 60 days of evaluation.
"We're going to do this as quickly as possible," Vitiello said.
The next step is for CBP officials to sit down with the selected companies and finalize a timeline, which, according to Vitiello, should take "couple of weeks."
The four companies that were awarded contracts are: Caddell Construction Co., Fisher Sand & Gravel Co., Texas Sterling Construction Co. and W. G. Yates & Sons Construction Company.
The contracts for the companies to build the prototypes range from just under $400,000 to just under $500,000.
Vitiello cautioned not to take the cost of the prototypes and extrapolate to come up with a cost for the whole wall, pointing out that the cost can fluctuate a great deal, depending on where it's built.
This process is not a competition for a winner to build the wall along the border, but rather a way for CBP to evaluate what the agency needs and what kinds of innovation industry can offer, said a CBP official.
The administration is using "reprogrammed" funds that are already designated for fiscal year 2017 spending for the prototypes. Any additional funding for the wall will need to be appropriated by Congress.
If the prototypes are beneficial to CBP in San Diego, the agency has a process for keeping them up as part of the long-term wall.
Concrete material will potentially be used for the secondary wall, not the primary wall, according to CBP plans.
"This is the first new initiative that adds to our plans," said Vitiello.