More Than a Fence

I just glanced through my latest issue of Engineering News-Record and was surprised to see a story on the Israel "fence." (ENR 3/29 p. 22). I was even more surprised to see that ENR has apparently become an accomplice to the Israeli misnomer that this "barrier" should actually be referred to as a "fence."

To call something a fence implies a rather benign structure. In this case, the use of this term simply misrepresents the intent and purpose of this monstrosity. While this benign name may serve the Israelis in their attempt to put a reasoned political face on this egregious land grab, ENR does its readership a distinct disservice to buy into the notion that this device is anything like a fence.

Clearly, the Israelis are building a barrier. In Berlin, it was referred to as a "wall", something permanent. Any reference to this structure as anything other than a barrier serves to diminish the monstrosity that it is.

Millau Is Too Much

After I read the article on the Millau Bridge (ENR 3/15 p. 24), I had to ask the question, "Why would anyone do this?" Looking at the photo on pages 26-27, you can see that the topography of the valley and the slopes at either end are far from rugged and the visual impact of this bridge is extremely intrusive. Why not simply come down to the valley floor and build on grade?

The bridge is reported to be 2.5 kilometers long and 27.75 meters wide. The price is given as $410 million. This translates into nearly $600/sq ft. Again, one is forced to ask, why would anyone do this?

You often report on high-profile European projects in glowing prose, implying that we Americans have much to learn from their style and daring. A cursory review of the costs of these projects indicates they are double or more than similar projects would cost here in the U.S. (See the Great Belt Project in Scandinavia.)

Give us open checkbooks and little, if any, risk and we can build anything you want. Fortunately, we have a concern for value and less hubris than our European cousins.