5 Global Public Works Mega Megaprojects


The global infrastructure market totaled $3.1 trillion in 2016 and is expected to hit $4.2T by 2020. Within that market are some public works megaprojects estimated to cost more than $1 billion. A select few of those qualify as mega megaprojects, which will cost more than $10B to complete.

A word on the parameters, aside from the $10B threshold. It’s possible to get too high-level when trying to categorize public works projects. For example, the U.S. interstate highway system that Eisenhower started in the 1950s has continually expanded and tallied hundreds of billions of dollars in construction and maintenance costs. This a public works project that has been going on for almost 70 years and will continue until we stop driving cars.

There are also massive global public works endeavors underway that encompass several projects. Here I would categorize the likes of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Porto Maravilha revitalization project and the ambitious Silk City project in Kuwait.

For these articles, I wanted to uncover the projects that have somewhat defined start and end dates. All public works projects require maintenance funding and updating after a time. However, it takes vision, commitment, compromise and collaboration to implement mega megaprojects, and that’s what I aim to highlight here.

Lagos-Calabar Railway: $11.1B

Railroad tracks extending to the horizon between Adelaide and Darwin in Australia.

The China Civil Engineering Construction Company is building this railroad to connect coastal port cities of Nigeria. China is also financing the project, which is intended to bolster economic growth, relieve traffic and reduce deterioration of roads. Up to 500,000 jobs may be created, but critics argue that number may be inflated. Stage one of the project, which will connect Lagos with Ibadan, is scheduled for completion by December 2018.

Istanbul New Airport: $11.3B

An architectural rendering of a proposed airport near Istanbul, Turkey.

Also known as the Third Airport, this will be one of, if not the largest airports in the world. The first phase is scheduled to be operational by 2018. Upon completion in 2025, the airport will have six runways, 143 boarding bridges and serve 100 airlines traveling to 350 destinations around the world. The airport is located about 22 miles outside of Istanbul, on the European side.

Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Project: $12.7B+

A commuter railcar rounding a corner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Malaysia’s Klang Valley is also known as the Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan Area. The $12.7B pertains only to MRT Lines 1 and 2. MRT Line 3 is undergoing a feasibility study before they announce the budget. Line 1 is already operational. MRT 2 is scheduled to begin operations in July 2017. The MRT signifies a massive effort to modernize Kuala Lumpur and its public transportation system. This is the largest public works infrastructure project ever undertaken in Malaysia.

HZMB: $16.7B

Boat-based cranes work to construct a bridge between Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macao.

The Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge (HZMB) will stretch more than 22 miles across and underneath the middle channel of the Pearl River estuary. The bridge section will be longer than 18 miles with three lanes of traffic flowing each direction. Construction began in 2009 and was expected to be complete in October 2016. Estimated completion is now December 2017. The HZMB is engineered to last 120 years.

London Crossrail Project: $19.3B

To be known as the Elizabeth line when it begins service in December 2018, the new railway will improve journey times across London, ease congestion and offer better connections to the region southeast of London. Construction began in 2009 and is expected to be complete in May 2019 when the eastern section is connected through central London to Paddington. Construction includes 10 new stations.

Part two of this series includes only public works mega megaprojects with budgets greater than $20B.

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