Nogales border fence nears completion

In about three weeks, a 3-mile stretch of border wall through downtown Nogales will be finished.

On July 22, Granite Construction says it be done upgrading security and replacing the old landing pad installed in the early 1990s.

The Border Patrol says it will greatly enhance security.

"The agents will be able to see the people who are attempting to assault them," said Sabri Dikman, the border patrol agent in charge of the Nogales station.

In the past, agents have been pelted with rocks from people on the south side of the wall. Because the old landing pad was solid, the agents couldn't see an impending attack.

Now they can.

"The agents can proactively react to those threats," Dikman says.

The new wall is much taller, up to 30 feet in some places, and is much more secure than the old one.

"A typical panel is 24 feet above ground and 5 feet below ground," says Mike Tatasco, a foreman from Granite Construction. "It also has a 6-foot reinforced footing that is 18 inches wide."

That will keep illegal crosses from burrowing under the wall, and anyone wanting to cut their way in will have a test as well.

A series of concrete and steel layers in each section of wall "would take someone two days to cut through," Tatasco said

The reinforcement is so strong he says a person cutting through "would have to change blades at least six times."

The goal of the wall is to protect Nogales by chasing all would be crossers east and west to the more rural areas.

"We've staffed more agents in the rural areas that ever before," Dikman says. "We have robust staffing the rural areas and patrol those areas aggressively."

The wall is being paid for by the Secure Border Initiative, which was passed in 2006.