Past bor­der-wall costs in­struc­tive

The Columbus Dispatch - - Morningstarters - By Su­san Mon­toya Bryan

AL­BU­QUERQUE, N.M. — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is not giv­ing up on his de­mand for $5.7 bil­lion to build a wall along the U.s.-mex­ico bor­der, say­ing a phys­i­cal bar­rier is cen­tral to any strat­egy for ad­dress­ing the se­cu­rity and hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis at the south­ern bor­der.

Democrats ar­gue that fund­ing the con­struc­tion of a steel bar­rier along 234 miles will not solve the prob­lems. A 2018 gov­ern­ment re­port warns of in­creased risks that the U.S. wall-build­ing pro­gram will cost more than pro­jected, take longer than planned and not per­form as ex­pected.

Walls and fenc­ing now cover about one-third of the 1,954-mile-long bor­der. Some con­struc­tion be­gan dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in the early 1990s, Ge­orge W. Bush ramped up the ef­fort in 2006, and Barack Obama built more than 130 miles, mostly dur­ing his first year in of­fice.

Be­tween 2007 and 2015, U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion spent $2.4 bil­lion to add 535 miles of pedes­trian and ve­hi­cle bar­ri­ers and other in­fra­struc­ture along the bor­der.

Trump wants to ex­tend and for­tify what’s al­ready in place. But con­tract­ing, de­sign­ing and build­ing new wall sys­tems that have up­dated tech­nol­ogy could take years, and ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that such work can be com­pli­cated and costly.

Here is how much the gov­ern­ment has spent on bar­ri­ers in the states along the bor­der:


Much of Cal­i­for­nia’s 141 miles of bor­der with Mex­ico was fenced dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion through a se­cu­rity mea­sure that won con­gres­sional ap­proval and had sup­port from key Democrats.

In 2009, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment spent about $16 mil­lion a mile on a 3.5-mile stretch in San Diego, us­ing about 2 mil­lion tons of dirt to fill in a canyon known as Smug­gler’s Gulch. The earthen dam was then topped with lay­ers of fenc­ing.

At the Im­pe­rial Sand Dunes, the U.S. built a float­ing fence of 16-footh­igh steel tubes that can be raised or low­ered as the sands shift. The $6 mil­lion-a-mile bar­rier cuts through a film­ing lo­ca­tion for “Star Wars: Re­turn of the Jedi” that re­sem­bles the Sa­hara.

Both are ex­am­ples of some of the rugged ter­ri­tory along the bor­der that

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