What exactly are megaprojects? Essentially, they’re projects that cost upward of 1 billion dollars and cause a substantial impact on society, such as the construction of roads. These projects create jobs and ensure the motion of money through the economy. Although these projects often benefit society, those remain who offer criticisms.
Megaprojects: A Brief Introduction
Megaprojects are constructed modularly, over long periods of time, and cost billions of dollars. It’s said that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were the highways. Due to the cost and complexity of these projects, they take years to complete. They require the involvement of local legislature, interest groups and may be financially supported via tax dollars. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, megaprojects require long-term investment and maintenance. Funding for these projects, much like the modular way they’re constructed, comes about in phases, often from taxes. Moreover, these projects can only be completed and maintained in an environment of economic stability, money is required for upkeep and a failing economy can’t support the upkeep of a massive highway.
Although the construction of roads is in all ways “mega,” surprisingly, megaproject refers to the amount of money invested, not the size. There is a debate whether the term megaproject remains appropriate, many believe megaproject was a misnomer by the Seventies. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, the term should be rechristened gigaproject. During the Seventies, the price tag for such projects soared to the billions. By the Eighties, Canada an had energy project underway which cost $200 billion. Currently, the price tag for road construction is more often in the billions than millions.
Criticism of Megaprojects
Megaprojects are costly. Moreover, they don’t always offer the benefits they claim to. Failures in city planning have lead to more traffic congestion and pollution, cite some. Other believe society should move toward “the paperless office.”
There are those who believe Americans should commute to work via The Information Super-Highway. According to Citylab.com, Texas expanded Houston’s Katy Freeway a few years back. The project cost $2.8 billion. At the completion of the 26-lane interstate, Houston possessed the “World’s Widest Highway.” However, no one was better off, the highway merely invited more motorists and travel time increased 55 percent. The US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has created a report, titled Highway Boondoggles Two, the report mentions over a dozen highway construction projects that merely cost the taxpayers money and didn’t improve traffic congestion. The PIRG suggests that the money could be better spent on alternatives to highway travel.
It’s said that America no longer possesses the luxury of spending billions on megaprojects. Citylab.com reports that The Federal Highway Trust Fund can no longer support current spending and environmental concerns demand investment in traffic reducing transportation projects. However, many disagree. Road construction projects are vital, they connect the vast landmass that is America and stimulates the economy.