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A contractor estimates the cost of a border wall

Date: 2019-Jan-27           Author: Others

President Donald Trump has insisted that a wall along the full U.S.-Mexican border is required to ensure national security.

The presumption of a national security issue is questionable at best. Even if there were such an issue, options other than a wall likely would be just as effective at a much lower cost.

That said, what would it actually take to build a wall? A Washington Post analysis showed how costly and impractical "steel slats" would be.

Garry Hubbard, a construction contractor in Virginia, has provided an analysis of what it would take to build a concrete wall.

Here is Hubbard's analysis

As the owner of a commercial and residential construction company, and a member of Virginia Builders and Contractors Exchange for many years, I would like to clarify what would be involved in building a border wall at least 1,600 miles long.

How would the project be planned?

This job would be classified as a design construct.

We would prepare all specifications and plans for submission. We also would create in-house engineering plans and specifications, as well as structural, civil, mechanical, and architectural drawings.

We would submit a list all material to be used along with all technical data. A minimum strength of 6,000 pounds per square inch (psi) would be required, and blown-in concrete would be needed to insure structural integrity for a 30-foot-high concrete wall.

We also would build prototypes of our designs using artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art technology, to ensure the security of the wall.

Cost would be more than $75 billion

Our preliminary estimate of the cost would be at least $78 billion.

But all of the above plans, specifications, designs, engineering, and prototypes are not free. We would require $150 million to submit and build all designs for the wall. All of the designs, technical materials, and prototypes would be proprietary, and would remain our property.

The federal government would need to provide infrastructure support

Infrastructure to build and maintain a viable road would be needed. Also, we would need self-contained field offices set up every 50 miles - with warehouses to store supplies and heavy equipment.

We also would need all seismic and geological data, and any data on the Rio Grande river. To even determine the viability of the wall, we would need soil boring samples to a depth of 50 feet.

Parts of the wall might need to be built 10 miles away from the river to ensure structural integrity.

Wall would take more than a decade to build

We would estimate a time-to-completion of 10 years. But that time does not account for lawsuits that would ensue in order for the federal government to take the land and water rights from the farmers, ranchers, and Native Americans who own the property. It has been estimated that 95 percent of the Texas border is in private hands.

This is but a small part of what would be required.

For the record, I do not endorse building a 1,600 mile-long wall. Americans all are for securing our borders, but we must be smarter than a lump of concrete. After all, this is the 21st century.

Garry Hubbard is Navy veteran and the owner of Hubbard Brothers construction company in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. He has been a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Virginia Beach City Council.

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