I suspect that, like me, you are not a big fan of Herr Drumpf’s beautiful wall. I have not begun to worry about it too much because I still think it’s a fantasy; there may end up being a fence with increased Border Patrol staffing and technology such as sensors and drones, but I really don’t think we’re looking at a 30 foot tall, 6 foot thick, concrete wall all along the Southern border.
This article explores some of the reasons I continue to doubt its progress anytime soon: these things take planning, surveying, and time. I think that his experience building buildings and golf courses makes him think that a wall is easy, but
Compared to building a marble palace or high-steepled church, erecting a wall may seem relatively straightforward. It isn’t. (Just ask the Chinese, whose Great Wall took 2,000 years to build and failed to keep out invaders.) Though most wall designs are fairly simple, builders must adapt to a wide range of terrains, explains Gary Clendenin, a senior hydrogeologist at ICF. The southern U.S. border alone contains desert, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, mountains and forests—all of which create vastly different problems for builders.
“The length of this thing presents challenges that just aren’t typically undertaken in a construction project,” says Clendenin.
Before a single brick is laid, teams of scientists assemble on scene to investigate a litany of details, from bedrock depth to soil chemistry. In the case of the border wall, they would have to traverse the entire length of the proposed path, working in segments to evaluate the region, collect data, develop plans. (This necessity makes the process of erecting walls—especially ones spanning thousands of miles—more challenging than building, say, a 95-story skyscraper.)
“Quite frankly, that would take years to do,” says Clendenin, who specializes in linear projects like railways and roads. McKinnon agrees. One project she worked on, a three-mile stretch of pipeline, is now on year five of field surveys.
Given the important details the article covers, I suspect that, should this current accelerated schedule result in actual construction, within 5 years there will be major collapses of sections, adding a perfect permanent illustration of the quality of his planning, work, and service to the country.
Also, since there’s not a huge oversupply of surveyors, engineers, laborers, concrete plants and trucks, and all the support (housing, food and water, medical care, repairs, etc.) just sitting around near the border wasting away, this will have huge disruptions in nearby communities such that local priorities will get ignored. Again, I just don’t think that this scale of a project will happen quickly because there aren’t enough people to do the job without taking them from other, more productive efforts in our economy.
If only every other horror he wishes to inflict upon us required so much planning and resources!