Construction of a new barrier wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego began Friday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) San Diego Sector said.
The project will replace a portion of the barrier constructed of scrap metal roughly 10 feet high with an 18 to 30-foot "bollard-style" wall capped with an anti-climbing plate.
Fourteen miles of barrier will be replaced, starting about a half-mile west of the Pacific Ocean and extending into the Otay Mountains in East San Diego County, the CBP said.
The CBP said the San Diego area was one of its highest priorities in the border wall project.
“Under this President’s leadership, we have a renewed commitment to secure our border," said Ronald Vitiello, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Acting Deputy Commissioner. "The new primary wall-project represents an important milestone in our work to secure the international border. Not only does it significantly upgrade our existing infrastructure in San Diego, it also marks the third concurrent wall project in the U.S. and reflects CBP’s unwavering commitment to secure our borders and protect our Nation.”
According to the CBP, the older steel wall built in the 1990s out of recycled material and steel plates was underperforming and in need of replacement.
Border wall construction is underway at two other locations; a two-mile primary wall project in Calexico, California, about 60 miles west of Yuma, Arizona, and a 10-mile project near Santa Teresa, New Mexico, west of El Paso.
Texas-based construction corporation SLSCO was awarded the $147 million contract for the wall project.
In March, the CBP said 100 miles of border fence would be replaced with funding from the 2018 appropriations.
The Pentagon said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis talked with President Donald Trump about the possibility that the Defense Department could fund the long-promised border wall with Mexico.
In fiscal year 2017, San Diego Sector CBP said it apprehended more than 26,000 undocumented people and seized more than 23,000 pounds of illegal drugs.