The President of the United States, Donald Trump, has signed an executive order which stipulates that a wall along the US-Mexico border is to be constructed. The initial promise was that it would be 50-foot high and 2,000 miles long. The President is determined that a wall will be built, and that Mexico will pay for it. Needless to say, it has left civil engineers wide-eyed.
As envisaged the wall will span four states: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Trump’s concept of the ideal fortification has already begun to crumble. It cannot be one long, sprawling wall. In his first interview as President-elect, Trump spoke to CBS News show, 60 Minutes, admitting that some fencing might have to be erected as, in retrospect, one long wall might not be practical.
This is contradicts his initial stance on the wall, where he said: “A wall is better than fencing, and it’s much more powerful. It’s more secure. It’s taller.”
Credit: Estudio 3.14/ Agustin Avalos
A design firm in Mexico named Estudio 3.14 rendered an image of what a fully constructed wall would look like upon completion. The architects have titled the design renders: Prison Wall.
Building the Wall
With Trump winning the election civil engineers have been scratching their collective heads in contemplation of the wall’s build. If he wants the best result possible, experts say, he should use concrete masonry units (cinder or breeze blocks). Reinforcement bars to strengthen the wall may be necessary too.
The rumor is that, in total, it would result in a $25 billion bill, with the intensive labour required factored in. Although statistics from Business Insider, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that the wall would cost between $12 billion to $15 billion.
Trump might need to resort to a cheaper option; building the wall using inexpensive concrete blocks - 339 million cubic feet of it.
If fencing is indeed included in the construction it will reduce the costs, but what materials would work? It cannot be made out of steel wire mesh as this can be cut through by a range of tools including wire cutters. As a thinner defence it would be more vulnerable to breaches; even excavating underneath it would be a simpler operation.
Engineers have to be prepared for the chance of being called up by the Trump administration to build the wall. After the designs have been agreed upon, and the materials gathered, President Trump faces even more paperwork.
Render of Trump’s Wall
The project would include relentless land surveying, environmental impact reviews and more. Conveniently, Trump has signed another executive order: environmental review processes are to be sped up for industrial projects - the wall could presumably be categorized as such.
Unsurprisingly, scientists and environmentalists have pointed out that constructing a wall of this stature will be environmentally damaging.
Trump is determined, however: “They use the environment to stop a lot of good things, not only energy; buildings, factories, plants. They use it to stop things. It’s like a roadblock, but that’s not going to happen anymore,” he said in an interview with Sean Hannity from Fox News.
Marc Rosenblum, the Deputy Director of the US Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute has indicated that the maintenance of the wall is likely to cost $700 million annually
Despite all it seems that Trump will be sticking to his guns and making good on the promises he made on the campaign trail.
In Trump’s words, “You know, the Great Wall of China, built a long time ago, is 13,000 miles. I mean, you’re talking about big stuff. We’re talking about peanuts, by comparison to that,” Trump said.
The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
"60 Minutes Interview: President-elect Donald Trump." CBS News. CBS Interactive, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
Engel, Pamela. "MCCONNELL: Here's How Much the Border Wall Will Probably Cost." Business Insider. Business Insider, 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.
"President Donald Trump Hannity FULL Interview 1/26/17." YouTube. YouTube, 26 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Jan. 2017.