Trump sets terms for nice-looking wall

  • Business
  • Monday, 20 Mar 2017

Tight security: A file picture showing a section of the border fence on the US/Mexico border in Tecate, California. Trump’s border wall is said to be 5.5m tall and designed too prevent people from climbing it unassisted. – AFP

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall must be at least 5.5m tall, resistant to sledgehammers and “aesthetically pleasing,” at least on the north-facing side, according to a request for contractors to bid to produce prototypes.

Trump’s plans to spend billions of dollars on the wall to run the 3,110km border with Mexico has already sparked a warning from Senate Democrats about a potential government shutdown, but the administration isn’t waiting around for Congress to act.

While the government’s initial concept is for a 9m wall, the request for proposals posted by Customs and Border Protection late Friday said “designs with heights of at least 5.5m may be acceptable.”

The designs – one for a reinforced concrete structure and a second that can use other materials – must be able to prevent people from climbing the wall unassisted, include features to prevent scaling via grappling hooks and other climbing aides, and prevent tunneling within 1.8m of the surface.

The wall must also be able to repel someone equipped with a “sledgehammer, car jack, pick axe, chisel, battery operated impact tools, battery operated cutting tools, oxy/acetylene torch or other similar hand-held tools,” the government said in its order.

The concrete wall should be strong enough to delay a breach 30cm in diameter by at least an hour, the alternative wall for at least 30 minutes.

And in a Trumpian twist – the New York property magnate did pledge a “big, beautiful wall” – the north-facing side must be “aesthetically pleasing in color, anti-climb texture, etc, to be consistent with general surrounding environment.”

Initial concepts are due to the government by March 29, and contractors will first be asked to build 3m by 3m mockups of their prototypes in San Diego within two weeks of getting a notice to proceed.

That’s a sign of just how quickly the Trump administration wants to act on one of the Republican’s signature campaign promises. A 9.14m prototype is expected within a month.

Trump has insisted that Mexico will pay for the structure. His budget proposal released this week seeks US$1.5bil in 2017 and US$2.6bil for 2018, to cover border infrastructure and technology, including partial construction of the wall.

“Does that build the whole wall? No. It doesn’t.

“But it gives us a start on the programme, and you see some of the wall being built this year,” Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney said at the White House press briefing on March 16.

“Obviously we increase funding in 2018. But the wall will take longer than two years to build.”

Construction estimates have ranged from US$12bil to US$21.6bil. Mulvaney said in a radio interview on March 6 that per-mile estimates for the wall run from US$8mil to US$25mil.

“It just depends on, when you’re talking about across 2,000 miles or so, what you decide to build in what areas,” he said on the syndicated “Hugh Hewitt Show.” – Bloomberg

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