Summary of Megaprojects and Risk

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Every once in a while a little book comes along that, while small in size, carries sufficient intellectual weight to strike the body politic between the eyes, thereby getting its collective attention. This may be one such book. It offers a realistic look at megaprojects - those major infrastructure endeavors that span vast bodies of water, dam natural resources to generate energy and extend rail lines to previously unreachable regions - and compares the promises of these projects to what they actually deliver. The report card isn’t very good. Cost overruns are typically 25% to 100%, and sometimes 200% or more. Worse yet, studies show that the public tends to use megaprojects - be they airports or subway systems - only a fraction of the amount predicted. strongly recommends this book to politicians, legislators and anyone who wants to know the truth behind these huge infrastructure projects, as well as to CEOs, CFOs, project managers and risk officers in the private sector - this applies to your projects, even if there is a difference of scale.

About the Authors

Bent Flyvbjerg is the author of Making Social Science Matter and Rationality and Power. He is a professor in the department of development and planning at Aalborg University. Nils Bruzelius is an independent consultant who specializes in transport and planning. He is an associate professor at Stockholm University. Werner Rothengatter is the chief of the Institute of Economic Policy Research and of the unit on transport and communication at the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.



Big, Bigger, Biggest

Welcome to megaprojects - the civil engineering equivalents of the Great Pyramids, vast and complex engineering tasks. Completing them requires marshalling the resources of an entire region or nation over a period of many years or even decades.

Think of Boston’s "Big Dig," Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport, China’s Quinling tunnel, Japan’s Akashi Kaikyo bridge or Australia’s Sydney harbor tunnel. Huge scale engineering projects have become so commonplace in today’s rapidly developing world that "mega" seems almost the norm. Other examples include: Malaysia’s North-South Expressway, Thailand’s Second Stage Expressway, Denver’s new airport, Canada’s Confederation Bridge, the Sao Paulo-Buenos Aires Superhighway, Three Gorges Dam in China, Russia’s natural gas pipelines, the Pergau Dam in Malaysia, the "Chunnel" tunnel linking England and France, the Oresund bridge between Denmark and Sweden, the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal and the German MAGLEV between Berlin and Hamburg. More proposals are in the works, including a $50 billion project linking the U.S. and Russia across the Bering Strait, a European high-speed rail network, a fixed link across...

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