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Border Wall - Some Cost Reality

Jeb Bush has denounced the Trump idea of a permanent border wall saying it will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. This sounded hard to believe, and I thought it was worth while looking into.

For the record, in my real world life; I'm a General Contractor - and I do cost estimates on significant sized commercial construction work every day. It occurred to me that concrete, steel, and formwork are all known costs and that only the quantity would need to be adjusted to arrive at a reasonable "base price" for a border wall. So, here goes....

Lets assume a "typical" section of border wall to be concrete 8' high, with 6' of steel security fencing on top - for a total height of 14'. The section would look something like this.


Obviously there will be some variation over 1,900 miles of changing grade and conditions; but the quantities of concrete, steel, and labor should provide a reasonable basis to arrive at the range of cost to be anticipated. So, here's what the quantity survey and pricing looks like....

The above estimate itemizes the cost of construction of 1 mile of the the proposed border wall section, then multiplies that by the 1,900 mile Mexican / U.S. border. The costs for cubic yards of concrete and tons of steel are all verifiable. The math required to estimate the quantities required is shown. The result places the hard cost of the wall at about $2.6 Billion - not hundreds of billions.

Just for some perspective, what might we have to sacrifice to build a border wall?

Below is an excerpt of the Federal DOT budget for 2014...

Just for fun, if we simply for go the "Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program" we can have the wall. So, there you go. We can substitute a brain dead DOT Program that nobody ever heard of, and build a pretty darn good border wall.

There may be some good arguments against building this wall - but the cost argument just doesn't hold up. Come to think of it, the wall might do more to mitigate congestion than the original program anyway.