Although election promises don’t carry the weight they once used to, they are still widely made by contenders in democratic elections and therefore still need to be analysed. One of the more interesting ones that has emanated from the US primaries is the Trump Wall.
If elected, Trump has stated that he (/America) will construct a wall along the southern border. After initially saying a 2,000 mile wall would be constructed Mr Trump has reduced this length by half to 1,000 miles (with natural barriers being sufficient to cover the remaining gap).
We all understand the concept of a wall, so let’s get down to the details. Details are not one of Mr Trump’s strong points but we have been told the following:
- Specification: The wall be up to 50 feet tall and constructed from precast concrete and steel
- Cost: Mr Trump has been relatively loose on the cost, setting it at somewhere between $4 and $12 billion, and more recently arriving at a figure of $10 billion. Mr Trump is also of the opinion that Mexico will pay this cost, but that is another article altogether)
- Timeframe: undefined but presumably over the first 4-year term
Putting international relations (and human decency) aside, you would think this policy would have contractors rubbing their hands and at one of the biggest construction projects in the world. However, the opposite reaction seems to have occurred with those in the industry intimidated at the scale and seemingly impossible logistics of this task.
A recent NY Times article on Trump’s major immigration policies (the wall and deportation) makes an attempt to assess the implications of proceeding with the wall. The costs to complete are in excess of $26billion (a trenching model would be significantly more), and that is if it is even possible to complete. To source the concrete necessary would require specialist casting sites to be established along the border and water to be diverted to mix the concrete at certain points. Over 1,000 workers would be required to complete the project in four years. The maintenance cost for a fence that length and importance would also be astronomical.
There are obviously a lot of obstacles to overcome before this farcical idea could even be considered as a remote possibility, although it does make for some entertaining reading from a construction perspective. If we were to relate this to the local climate one comparison could be the unrealistic expectations that uninformed principals can have around the cost of their projects.