What if, instead of a wall, we were to build, along the southern border, a cargo shipping canal?
The U.S.-Mexico border is 1,989 miles long; of that, 1,255 is the Rio Grande river. The Rio Grande is, at its deepest, 60 feet, but much is much shallower. The rest of the border, including a small stretch of the Colorado river, changes elevation substantially, and crosses the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. For scale, the Panama Canal is only 48 miles long, and cuts through only one little 312 foot mountain. The Suez Canal is just 121 miles long, and crosses flat ground. This would be a much, much bigger undertaking.
Construction of the Suez Canal started in 1859 and finished ten years later. The Panama Canal was begun in 1881; the French, who were digging it, gave up in 1884; the Americans took over in 1904 and finished ten years later in 1914–thirteen years total work. A canal along our Southern border would be 16 times longer than the Suez Canal and 41 times longer than the Panama Canal. Would construction, therefore, take between 160 and 533 years?
The right question is, how much has construction improved in the last 100 or 150 years? I would say, enormously. The Panama Canal was dug with steam shovels and regular shovels; now, we live in a post-chunnel world. We have GPS, unfathomably gigantic diesel digging machines and heavy-lift helicopters. (No doubt soon there will be heavy-lift drones as well.) Blasting-wise, we could reduce every bump and mole-hill on the U.S.-Mexico border to glass and rubble in a week (though I suggest we don't).Read the rest of this op-ed HERE.
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