Employees of Fisher Sand & Gravel Company work near a truck as it drops concrete in front of a paving machine building a road next to a three-mile private border wall along the banks of the Rio Grande river in the town of Mission, Texas 11 on February 2020: (Reuters)
Part of the Trump administration’s border wall between the US and Mexico is at risk of collapsing just months after it was constructed, new engineering reports claim.
The border wall, constructed at the shore of Rio Grande, which forms part of the border between the US and Mexico, is at risk of collapsing due to construction flaws, new reports to be filed in federal court this week allege.
The wall, that stretches three miles along the river, was built earlier this year by construction company Fisher Sand and Gravel, who are based in North Dakota.
According to the documents, which were obtained by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, sections of the wall are at risk of collapsing if erosion issues are not fixed and maintained.
Last year, Alex Mayor, a civil engineering professor at the University of Texas, raised concerns about the wall and said the project is like a “$500 (£378) used car,” and added: “It seems like they are cutting corners everywhere.”
Tommy Fisher, the owner of the construction company, dismissed any concerns of erosion and said that “the wall will stand for 150 years,” according to the Tribune.
However, Mr Fisher agreed to an inspection, when the the National Butterfly Centre and the International Boundary and Water Commission filed a lawsuit against the building of the wall.
Construction still went ahead after the proceedings, as a federal judge ruled that building could not be halted until the potential negative environmental impacts could be determined.
In one of the reports, that will be filed later this week, environmental engineer Mark Tompkins, concluded that heavy rain has caused erosion at the border.
He wrote that “Fisher Industries private bollard fence will fail during extreme high flow events,” and called the construction company’s maintenance inspection plans “completely inadequate.”
In the second report, undertaken by Millennium Engineers Group of Pharr, Texas, after an inspection of the site, the organisation said that the fence is stable at the moment but will face problems in the future.
The organisation concluded that “the geography at the wall’s construction location in comparison to the river bend is not at a favourable location for long-term performance.”
Speaking to the Tribune, Mr Fisher said that he has not yet read the reports but claimed his company has fixed the erosion issues, partly by adding a road made of rocks next to the wall that prevents border traffic from displacing the structure.
He told the Tribune: “Bottom line, if you want border security on the border you have to think outside the box,” and added: “I feel very comfortable with what we’ve done.”
The wall was partly funded by the We Build the Wall campaign, who raised more than $25m (£18.9m) to help the Trump administration’s project, before its founder Brian Kolfage and president Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Steve Bannon were indicted for fraud related to the organisation.
Last month, Mr Bannon was indicted alongside three others, for allegedly funnelling “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from the We Build the Wall online fundraising campaign to Mr Kolfage.
We Build the Wall started as a GoFundMe campaign in 2018, and was created to help raise money from public funding to go directly towards building the the US-Mexico border wall at a time when the president was struggling with Congress.
All four of the men have pleaded not guilty and Mr Bannon claimed that “this entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall”, as he left federal court in Manhattan, New York, last month.
Mr Trump has attempted to distance himself from the project, and told reporters last month: “I know nothing about the project, other than I didn’t like — when I read about it, I didn’t like it. I said, ‘This is for government. This isn’t for private people’”.
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