Years of delays, billions of overruns: the sad story of major infrastructures

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“In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment,” he wrote in a guest journal column in 2013. “If people knew the real cost from the start , nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get started. Start digging a hole and make it so big that there is no alternative but to find the money to fill it.

U.S. Department of Transportation officials declined to comment for this article, but Biden administration officials said the new infrastructure package will remedy decades of neglect and boost the efficiency of the U.S. economy, tackle climate change and will create immediate construction jobs.

“We will reduce congestion,” Biden said. “We will address repair and maintenance delays, deploy cutting-edge technology and make our ports cleaner and more efficient. “

Mr Flyvbjerg, the Oxford professor, said infrastructure keeps getting more expensive as many products, such as televisions, refrigerators and computers, get cheaper or better every year.

“Large infrastructure is getting more and more expensive,” he said, a problem he attributes to the institutional sclerosis of government agencies that keep repeating mistakes and choosing infrastructure projects that have little impact. chances of success.

The mistakes, he said, include a lack of transparency to the public, flawed contracts that put government agencies at the mercy of contractors, and a failure to attract enough private investment to bear some of the project’s risks. .

The new infrastructure law, he said, does little to change the outlook.

Ronald N. Tutor, managing director of Tutor Perini, a California-based company that builds some of the nation’s biggest projects, said the industry has done a good job of advancing and completing projects that by nature are complex and unpredictable.

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