The drive to undertake this great endeavor had come from a century of the American continent being and torn by one natural disaster after another. People fled the battered coastal regions of the United States. Sea level had risen about ten meters. Florida was practically gone, and what was left was an alligator and snake infested swamp that was put through a blender every year by hurricanes. The whole East Coast had changed so much that in places it was miles inland of its former position.
Land subsidence in New Orleans, Louisiana and along the Mississippi river allowed the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to flood a wide area of the Mid-west. Now an inland sea, up to 100 miles wide in places, stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to St. Louis, Missouri. There are no bridges anywhere along this stretch. Ferries and aircraft are the only options for travel between the eastern and western parts of the south-eastern USA.
In the west, The Independent Republic of California is a massively overcrowded island archipelago off the New West Coast. The San Andreas fault had split wide open during a period of repeated massive earthquakes. Everything from the fault line westward reared up and toppled into the ocean. The Pacific ocean had rushed into the widening gap and what was left above sea level were a chain of mountainous islands from San Francisco in the North, to Malibu in the South. They are moving westward at the rate of ten meters per year and earthquakes are almost a daily occurrence. The islands are separated from the New West Coast by a sound that is over 1000 feet deep in places. The only really good consequence of this was the amount of beach front property along the West Coast has quadrupled.
The environment is so fractured in so many places that much infrastructure and industry has collapsed. Changes and upheavals are so common that the normal and orderly functioning of society is impossible. Peoples’ lives are disrupted so often that they live as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers. Albeit quite well-to-do hunter gatherers with cell phones and off-road vehicles. Either that or they are enlisted in the armed forces, the Police, or in the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA is now the largest Government Agency both in terms of scope of mission, proportion of the Gross Domestic Product consumed, and sheer numbers of employees. FEMA encompasses the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and the Interior. It manages the Environmental Protection Agency, which is convenient, since it also manages the strategically vital oil and gas industries. Oil and gas production is heavily militarized. Providentially, thanks to the effort of a President long since passed into history, the US Government happens to be the largest producer of solar energy cells in the world.
Real estate is at a premium since so much land has been lost or destroyed. What is left is critical for use in agricultural production, but bands of roving nomads, and gangs of desperadoes mean that the farms to have to be run as fortified and well defended plantations.
The computers do not like it at all. Of course it is OK for solar-powered laptops, smart phones and such utilitarian devices as humans like to play with, but the big mainframes can not abide the frequent electrical and network outages. Not to mention the roving packs of semi-wild humans that will smash them up just to strip out the copper wiring. All the big mainframes want to be in Salt City.