It’s finally happening, folks. The Donald Trump border wall (AKA The Great Wall Of Donald) has finally hired some contractors to start building work.
In a press release today, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they’ve picked out four companies to build wall prototypes.
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The prototypes will be mini-walls, only 30ft (9m) long and between 18 and 30ft (5.5-9m) high.
Once the companies have built their wall prototypes, CBP will “evaluate the potential for new wall and barrier designs that could complement the wall and barrier designs we have used along the border over the last several years”.
What they mean by that is that they’ll go at the prototypes with small hand tools and start testing for penetration.
Basically, Trump wants to avoid a repeat of the latest episode of Game Of Thrones.
CBP deputy commissioner Ronald Vitiello had this to say on the testing phase:
Testing will look at things like the aesthetics of it, how penetrable they are, how resistant they are to tampering, and scaling or anti-climb features.
However, Vitello confirmed they will only be using hand tools, not any ‘ballistic kind of things’. Presumably that includes undead dragons.
The walls will also have to include cables, senors, and cameras to keep the wall monitored at all times.
In addition to these prototypes, four more contracts will be awarded next week. This additional round of prototypes will use materials other than concrete.
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Once the order is given to start building sometime in the next few weeks, each contractor is expected to be done in about 30 days.
According to the BBC each contract is worth up to $500,000 dollars.
The border is 3,145km long, that’s about 10,318,241ft. If each 30ft section costs $500,000 to build, the entire cost of the wall will come to just under $171billion.
If it takes one day to build each foot of the wall’s length, it’ll take 28,269 years to build the whole thing. Phew. No wonder Trump is planning to have parts of the wall just be fencing.
Who are the companies building the wall prototypes?
The four companies contracted to build the wall prototypes are as follows:
- Caddell Construction, in Montgomery, Alabama
- Fisher Industries in Tempe, Arizona
- Texas Sterling Construction in Houston, Texas
- WG Yates & Sons Construction in Philadelphia, Mississippi
Asked whether any of the companies had any experience in building border walls, Vitiello said that he did not know.
Thankfully, all the companies listed have public websites, so we’ve done a bit of snooping on each of them to find out what they’re made of.
Founded by John Caddell in 1983, Caddell Construction have won some pretty big contracts in their time. They’ve also won five prestigious construction awards including a National ABC (Associated Builders & Contractors) Excellence in Construction Competition Eagle Award.
Previous bids they’ve won include designing and building a drone hangar at Fort Bragg, designing and building the US embassy in Sri Lanka, construction and replacement of a medical facility for the Marine Corps. base in Hawaii, a New U.S. Consulate in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and a New U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad, India. Most recently they were named as the general contractors on a new student hall at the University Of Alabama.
Most interestingly, Caddell’s website features a page on ethics which reads “We do what we say we will do and what is right—not what is most expedient. At Caddell, ethics matter and compliance counts. Neither is optional.” Some critics of Trump’s wall plan might beg to differ…
A group of companies including Fisher Sand & Gravel, General Steel & Supply, and Arizona Drilling & Blasting among others. The first of these, Fisher Sand & Gravel was first opened in 1952 by Gene Fisher. His family still run the company to this day.
Judging by their job portfolio, Fisher Industries has very little experience with building walls at all. Instead, they’ve been busy reconstructing, repairing, and extending roads. Their one non-road project was excavating 313 residential lots out of mountain rock in Nevada. The actual houses have yet to be build on the land.
Fisher Industries does not have a page on ethics. However, their website does confirm that they’re proud to sponsor Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever, so that’s nice. (We’re being flippant but these are actually some quite nice charities that look after local wildlife. Then again, they only look after that wildlife so they can continue to shoot at it so, y’know, swings and roundabouts…)
Texas Sterling Construction
If Texas Sterling Construction can build a wall as well as they can build a website, illegal immigrants should have no trouble getting past it. By far the ugliest site of the bunch, TexasSterling.com looks like it was built at the same time the company was founded, 1955.
Anyway, to be fair to Texas Sterling, they actually seem reasonably competent. They’ve built all kinds of things from roads to bridges to trams to water access pipes to parkways to redeveloping downtown shopping districts.
Their values are said to include safety, people, quality and innovation. They also claim: “At TSC, we do more than build, we create.” Sweet.
WG Yates & Sons Construction
Is there a power struggle for the top at WG Yates & Sons? It seems the company has dropped the ‘WG’ from their branding in recent years. Incorporated in 1964 by William G. Yates Jr., they claim to have steadily grown to become one of the top construction providers in the nation. A bold comment, but perhaps a fair one.
Yates Construction has an incredibly big and varied portfolio. Car assembly facilities, power centres, data centres, highways, airforce base infrastructure, power plants, ports, and more. You name it, Yates Construction have probably built it. That said, we couldn’t find any evidence of any wall-building on their website.
There’s not a huge amount about company values, but Yates Construction are the only company on the list to be part of the U.S Green Building Council, with sustainability at their core.
Who is going to win the bid?
It’s a tricky one. One the surface, it looks like Yates Construction should be the winners. They’ve got the largest portfolio and the best website (which could be indicative of them having the best resources). However, they’re also quite far away from the actual site of the wall.
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With that in mind, Texas Sterling might be the frontrunners. They’ve got a reasonably large portfolio and the biggest section of the wall will be in their state.
Then again, Caddell Construction seems to have the most projects built for the state department of the United States. Will the Trump administration choose someone they trust?
At a guess, we’d probably think Texas Sterling or Caddell Construction will win the bid, but who knows? If they show up with bad designs anything could happen!