Tags: webuildthewall | riogrande | engineers | resist

Experts: 'We Build the Wall' Section Will Fall Into Rio Grande

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By    |   Thursday, 02 July 2020 09:53 PM

A risky border wall construction in a difficult 3-mile section along the Rio Grande in Texas is in danger of eroding from runoff and falling into the river, engineer academics and experts told ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

But the builder, Tommy Fisher – partially, privately funded by triple-amputee Brian Kolfage's We Build the Wall, which is affiliated with former White House strategist Steve Bannon – rejects the claims.

Drainage ditches are being added to fortify what Fisher has billed as the "Lamborghini," according to the company's lawyer Mark Courtois, per the report.

The runoff erosion along the river is an anticipated hurdle and "a normal part of new construction projects like this and does not in any way compromise the fence or associated roadway," Courtois told the investigative reporters.

Kolfage and Bannon's nonprofit We Build the Wall, backed by $25 million from small donors, has been the target of attacks from the outset, and the latest resistance comes from academics and experts claiming the design is doomed to slide into the Rio Grande.

"When the river rises, it will likely attack those areas where the foundation is exposed, further weakening support of the fence and potentially causing portions . . . to fall into the Rio Grande," University of Texas at El Paso civil engineer professor Alex Mayer said, per the report.

Fellow UTEP academic Victor Manjarrez of Center for Law and Human Behavior called it "nuts" to build the wall along the riverside.

"You're going to get all the hydrology problems and not even from a flood, just normal ebb and flow," Manjarrez, a former El Paso Border Patrol sector chief, told the reporters.

"If I was the sector chief and built something like that, I'd be in so much trouble."

Fisher, who has won $1.7 billion worth of federal contracts in Arizona – reportedly because he was the lowest bidder – is the subject of an ongoing Pentagon inspector general investigation as called for by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., because of "inappropriate influence" concerns, per the report.

Fisher's fence is a high-profile target in an election year, because he is tasked with building a large portion of President Donald Trump's 450 promised miles of border wall by the end of his first presidential term.

Bannon has brought in Kolfage's nonprofit's $25 million and its claims of having agreements with landowners along 250 miles of riverfront property in Texas.

But it is Fisher's controversial 2 1/2-foot deep foundation – unlike past government bollard fences that go 6 to 7-feet deep into the ground – that has past builders concerned over the effects of river erosion, not to mention wind.

"To me, that was the biggest mistake they made," former border wall engineer Joseph Jarvis told the reporters. "While they focused on the velocity of the water that would go through the bollards, the bigger problem is the water that runs parallel [to the fence], that's the one that's going to erode the dirt that's supporting the foundation."

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A risky border wall construction in a difficult 3-mile section along the Rio Grande in Texas is in danger of eroding from runoff and falling into the river...
webuildthewall, riogrande, engineers, resist
Thursday, 02 July 2020 09:53 PM
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