‘Tall, Pretty, And Hard To Climb’: Trump Puts Out Call For Wall Design

Would-be contractors have about two weeks to submit their proposals

An activist paints the U.S.-Mexico border wall — REUTERS
Mar 18, 2017 at 5:11 PM ET

The United States government on Friday released its stipulations for President Donald Trump’s long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall. While the hefty document details many of the structure’s requirements, the actual design of the wall will ultimately be determined by whichever builder wins the contract.

Customs and Border Protection posted its notice for the request for proposal (RFP) on Friday evening. Among its specifications, the government wants the wall to be tall (ideally 30 feet, but minimum 18 feet), solid (preferably concrete, but other materials are not off the table), and pleasing to the eye (it should blend in with its surroundings on the U.S. side).

The wall must also include “anti-climb topping features” in order to prevent people from scaling it with grappling hooks or handholds, and it should be built at least six feet “below the lowest adjacent grade” so would-be border-crossers can’t simply burrow under it. Further, the wall “shall prevent/deter for a minimum of 30 minutes the creation of a physical breach of the wall…larger than 12-inches in diameter or square” using implements such as sledgehammers, pick axes, chisels, battering rams, or literally anything else that could be used to punch a hole through the wall.

As for its prototype requirements, the government wants contractors to provide 30-foot long models that “meet all of the border wall requirements” barring those dealing with drainage, steep slopes, and the gate. Each prototype submitted will cost in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $500,000. However, contractors will also have to submit a 10-foot mock-up to “allow the government to rest and evaluate the anti-destruct characteristics of the bidder’s wall design.” Bidders have roughly two weeks to submit their proposals to the government.

Trump’s border wall was one of his central campaign promises, as was his pledge to make Mexico pay for it. The RFP does not contain a cost estimate for the structure, though Trump’s recent budget proposal includes in it a $2 billion down payment for the wall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said in January that the wall would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion, though other estimates have put the price tag as high $25 billion. It seems extremely unlikely at this point, however, that Mexico will be covering the costs.