Border fence construction resumes on Colorado River
SAN LUIS, Ariz. – Construction of a border fence along the lower Colorado River resumed this week, a Yuma-based Border Patrol spokesman confirmed.
Ben Vik, supervisor for the federal agency, said the fence building is using a new type of structure, based on vertical posts with a metal mesh that has wider openings than the one used in the first section of the structure.
At the beginning of the year, the fence construction started at a border point near the Colorado River Bridge.
The work advanced about a mile, going north, following the right riverbank, up to County 22-1/2 Street, but "the project did not stop, only there were changes in the materials," said Vik.
Tuesday, construction restarted at County 19th Street and will continue 3.6 miles south, up to the point where building stopped months ago, and north to County 18th Street, almost a quarter-mile from Gadsden.
Going farther north, the border fence will be limited to vehicular barriers, said the Border Patrol spokesman.
The construction will not have a negative impact on the restoration project of the river area known as Hunter’s Hole, a plan to recover the natural ecosystem that was the region’s main moisture retaining lands, according to a representative of the group that is promoting the restoration.
"We are in an experimentation phase and we know we must prove to the federal government that this project is viable for the environment and for security purposes, and get them to adapt theirs," stated Javier Morales, international liaison for the project.
"We knew that sooner or later the fence building would resume, but we also know that there is the will, on both parties, to work in a coordinated manner, and of the Border Patrol to adapt their project to ours," Morales said.
In that respect, Vik agreed, Border Patrol officials have said the fence would be adapted to the ecological project once it obtains funding and starts being executed.
Meanwhile, he added, "the fence is necessary to diminish the traffic of people and drugs, the illegal crossings and the crime level of that zone."
This new section of the border fence corresponds to a project to build a fence from the Organ Pipe Park, near Lukeville, Ariz., to the Imperial Sand Dunes in California, at a total length of 125 miles.
Last month, National Guard members who were protecting the area were withdrawn from the Colorado River zone. Morales said their presence was well regarded also on the Mexican side, particularly among the residents of Colonia Miguel Aleman, in Baja California, who saw a reduction in the number of crimes.
"We can work together to improve security and the environment, there is the will by the federal government, the only thing that’s needed is for both objectives to come together," said Morales.
Cesar Neyoy is a staff writer for Bajo El Sol, The Sun's Spanish-language sister publication from which this story is reprinted.