January 8 at 7:52 PM
To recap: Iâ€™m a licensed structural and civil engineer with a MS in structural engineering from the top program in the nation and over a decade of experience on high-performance projects, and particularly of cleaning up design disasters where the factors werenâ€™t properly accounted for, and Iâ€™m an adjunct professor of structural analysis and design at UH-Downtown. I have previously been deposed as an expert witness in matters regarding proper construction of walls and the various factors associated therein, and my testimony has passed Daubert.
Am I a wall expert? I am. I am literally a court-accepted expert on walls.
Structurally and civil engineering-wise, the border wall is not a feasible project. Trump did not hire engineers to design the thing. He solicited bids from contractors, not engineers. This means itâ€™s not been designed by professionals. Itâ€™s a disaster of numerous types waiting to happen.
Off the top of my head…
1) It will mess with our ability to drain land in flash flooding. Anything impeding the ability of water to get where it needs to go (doesnâ€™t matter if there are holes in the wall or whatever) is going to dramatically increase the risk of flooding.
2) Messes with all kind of stuff ecologically. For all other projects, we have to do an Environmental Site Assessment, which is arduous. Theyâ€™re either planning to circumvent all this, or they havenâ€™t accounted for it yet, because thatâ€™s part of the design process, and this thing hasnâ€™t been designed.
3) The prototypes they came up with are nearly impossible to build or donâ€™t actually do the job. This article explains more:
Writing on the Wall: Report Suggests Border Project Is Off-Track and Over Budget
And so on.
The estimates provided for the cost are arrived at unreasonably. You can look for yourself at the two-year-old estimate that you see everyone citing.
Bernstein Materials Blast: Who Would Profit from The Trump Wall?
It does not account for rework, complexities beyond the prototype design, factors to prevent flood and environmental hazard creation, engineering redesign… Itâ€™s going to be higher than $50bn. The contractors will hit the government with near CONSTANT change orders. â€œCost overrunâ€ will be the name of the game. It will not be completed in Trumpâ€™s lifetime.
Iâ€™m a structural forensicist, which means Iâ€™m called in when things go wrong. This is a project that WILL go wrong. When projects go wrong, the original estimates are just *obliterated*. And when that happens, good luck getting it fixed, because there arenâ€™t that many forensicists out there to right the ship, particularly not that are willing to work on a border wall projectâ€” a large quotient of us are immigrants, and besides, we canâ€™t afford to bid on jobs that are this political. Weâ€™re small firms, and weâ€™re already busy, and we donâ€™t gamble our reputations on political footballs. So youâ€™d end up with a revolving door of contractors making a giant, uncoordinated muddle of things, and itâ€™d generally be a mess. Good money after bad. The GAO agrees with me.
And it wonâ€™t be effective. I could, right now, purchase a 32 foot extension ladder and weld a cheap custom saddle for the top of the proposed wall so that I can get over it. I donâ€™t know who they talked to about the wall design and its efficacy, but it sure as heck wasnâ€™t anybody with any engineering imagination.
Another thing: we are not far from the day where inexpensive drones will be able to pick up and carry someone. This will happen in the next ten years, and itâ€™s folly to think that the coyotes who ferry people over the border wonâ€™t purchase or create them. Theyâ€™re low enough, quiet enough, and small enough to quickly zip people over any wall we could build undetected with our current monitoring setup.
Letâ€™s have border security, by all means, but letâ€™s be smart about it. This is not smart. Itâ€™s not effective. Itâ€™s NOT cheap. The returns will be diminishing as technology advances, too. This is a ridiculous idea that will never be successfully executed and, as such, would be a monumental waste of money. ðŸ¤·ðŸ»â€â™€ï¸
This is set to public. Have a blast sharing it.
(Source: public domain: https://www.flickr.com/photos/54593278@N03/24075842318/)
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