Mega Project Challenges, Experiences

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    Profile photo of Alex Puscasu
    Alex Puscasu
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    Hey, I was wandering if we can spark a brainstorming session on mega projects. I am more than curious to find out what may be the challenges involved in leading such endeavors. So please share your experiences and we’ll see how it goes. Mega projects may be defined as:

    1. Projects that cost more than US$1 billion and attract a lot of public attention because of substantial impacts on communities, environment, and budgets.
    2. Projects can also be “initiatives that are physical, very expensive, and public”.

    Examples of mega projects include bridges, tunnels, highways, railways, airports, seaports, power plants, dams, wastewater projects, Special Economic Zones (SEZ), oil and natural gas extraction projects, public buildings, information technology systems, aerospace projects, and weapons systems.

    I know there are a lot of examples out there, and I will will be ecstatic to have some first party experiences in the comments below. I’ll start by listing a few examples:

    Riyadh Metro ($22bn): Six lines covering 176km, 85 stations and 69 trains. The Riyadh Metro is the biggest infrastructure project in the world. The multi-billion dollar contract is divided into three parts, awarded to three different consortia in 2013. The project is due to open fully in 2018.

    California High Speed Rail: By 2022, California residents expect to enjoy a cool three-hour train ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco. That date is looking more and more unreasonable. The major hold up? California has not yet obtained all the parcels of land required to build the 520 miles of track. Despite some missteps, project leaders thoughtfully integrating $160M of contingency funds, though it seems you can’t account for everything.

    I-81 Viaduct Project, Syracuse NY: After over a year of stakeholder input, the Department of Transportation has narrowed down its options for improving the accident-heavy I-81 viaduct to just three: a community grid or street level alternative ($1B), a tunnel (price unknown), or replace the viaduct ($1.4B). Currently entering environmental review, this project will continue to require public and agency participation to refine the project objectives.

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