The U.S. Department of Defense announced this week that a Bozeman construction company was awarded $187 million for a border wall construction project.
Barnard Construction Co. was awarded a contract to replace vehicle fencing with pedestrian fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border near Yuma, Arizona, the defense department wrote on its website.
The wall will be 11 miles long with heights of 18 to 30 feet, according to a news release by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The wall will have thick posts or slabs with openings too small for a person to get through.
Near the Colorado River, the wall is depicted in a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol document as being adjacent to several miles of existing pedestrian and vehicle barrier walls.
“These locations represent top operational priorities for replacement and will improve each sector’s ability to impede and deny illegal border crossings and the drug- and human-smuggling activities of transnational criminal organizations,” the Army Corps of Engineers said.
Opponents of the project say it will disrupt wildlife access to the Colorado River and won’t stop families from seeking asylum.
“Barnard Construction is profiting by building a wall that will cut wildlife and communities off from their water source,” said Laiken Jordahl, borderlands campaigner for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Barnard Construction Co. declined to comment on the project. It has worked on a number of big infrastructure projects across the country, from tunnels under San Francisco to dams in Alaska, according to its website.
The company has been awarded contracts for other border wall projects as well. In November 2018, MTN News reported that Barnard was awarded $172 million to construct 32 miles of replacement wall in the same area. The Associated Press reported in May 2018 that Barnard was awarded more than $73 million to design and build replacement fencing along 20 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico.
Well-established in Bozeman, the company’s founder, Tim Barnard, donated $6 million to Montana State University’s College of Engineering in 2016. A building was officially named Barnard Hall in his and his wife’s honor the same year.
Barnard has donated money to create new civil engineering scholarships at MSU and hire new faculty to teach civil engineering technology, receiving an honorary doctorate from MSU in 2011. As of 2016, Barnard Construction Co. had hired 45 MSU graduates.
“They’re among our most loyal and generous donors,” said Chris Murray, head of the MSU Alumni Foundation.
Barnard has also donated to Family Promise, a church-based program that helps homeless families; Eagle Mount, which provides therapeutic recreational opportunities to people with disabilities; and Reach Inc., a nonprofit that helps adults with developmental disabilities.
Barnard Construction Co.’s contract was announced in conjunction with a $789 million contract to the Galveston, Texas-based company SLSCO Ltd. Together, the two contracts total nearly $1 billion.