The Border Wall and Construction
The Wall. It’s been a subject on the lips of politicians and pundits for well over a year, ever since President Trump has been running for office. And the subject’s not new: a congressional vote for a wall was won back in 2006, with the Secure Fence Act of 2006, though Trump’s wall is speculated to be on a much grander scale than the former plans.
But as the wall becomes more and more of a certainty (and yesterday’s executive order made it an immediate priority), people in all walks of life are asking what this really means for the country, both politically and industrially.
The construction industry is gathering information about what the plans for the wall will be. The executive order isn’t very specific, except to say that the wall will be a “physicial wall”, a “contiguous and impassable physical barrier.”
(This nixes many of the plans made in a recent architectural design competition, BuildingTheBorderWall.com, where the tie-winning first place winners designed one wall that drew water from the Gulf of Mexico, desalinated it, and created a sort of irrigation canal/wall that would revitalize the desert and the surrounding desert; and second, a series of inflatable bubbles that would create a place for “coming together".)
The closest thing we have to plans for the wall are comments the then-presidential-hopeful made in August, saying that the wall will be made of concrete, stretch the entire length of the 1000+ mile southern border, and be 35-45 feet tall.
Concrete would be the most obvious choice of material used to build the massive fortification that would span the 1900 miles required to cover the US-Mexican border. For a wall that was 20 feet tall with an additional 5 feet underground, it would require over 339 million cubic feet of concrete, estimates Ali F Rhuzkan, a structural engineer based out of New York. This would be 3 times the amount of concrete that was used in the construction of the Hoover Dam.
In addition to the enormous amounts of materials that would be required, the structural design would need to take into account the environmental challenges offered by the region. Rivers, flood areas, sand, and a host of other challenging obstacles take creating the structure and the upkeep of the structure to all new heights.
What is concerning to the construction industry today is not the just question of what the wall will look like, but who is going to build it. The fact is that there is a labor shortage in the region already, as Bloomberg reports today. Wages are rising as workers are in high demand, and many housing projects are being delayed for want of labor.
Regardless, if all the challenges the border wall pose can be met, the Trump administration has promised a huge infrastructure plan, estimated by the president at half a trillion dollars.