What’s $1.8 billion in cost overruns? In March 2016, all of New York City grappled with that question as its new, very large, very prominent transportation hub debuted in lower Manhattan. The Santiago Calatrava-designed hub cost a cool $4 billion, making it the most expensive train station ever. At least 50,000 commuters will pass through its white excesses every day and wonder if the price tag’s worth it.
How does a 7,700-foot concrete bridge float? With the help of 77 air-filled pontoons, of course. Washington State’s new floating bridge—the longest in the world—opened to traffic in April.
Seventeen years is a long time, but maybe not so long if you’re talking about blasting a 94 miles worth of tunnel through the Alps. The Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened in June and finally started carrying passenger trains in December, runs 35 miles between the quaint Swiss towns of Erstfeld and Bodio. By 2020, train lovers and should be able to travel from northern Italy all the way to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, thanks to this tunnel.
Panama’s $5 billion canal expansion opened in June, which happened to be not-so-great timing for the small Central American country. The global shipping industry slumped just as the canal doubled its cargo capacity, with a new set of locks that allows extra-gigantic Post-Panamax ships sail on through. Still, the expansion is expected to shift up to 10 percent of US to East Asia container traffic away from American West Coast ports and toward its East.
In August 2016, the world got a new extra wide and extra tall suspension bridge, and another link between Europe and Asia. The 3.1-mile long, 1,056-foot high, 192-foot wide, $3 billion project is the third to span the Bosphorus strait between the two continents that make up the old Turkish capital. (Another intercontinental link— the 3.4 mile Eurasia tunnel —opened in December.) Eight lanes of traffic are now up and running on the bridge, with a high-speed rail line soon to follow.
Ethiopia opened its very first rail line to tiny, neighbouring Djibouti in October. It’s a pretty big deal for the East African country, and for its capital of Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and this new electric railway—mostly financed and constructed by the Chinese government and Chinese firms — which connect the landlocked country to the ocean. It should cut travel times between Addis Ababa and Djibouti from three days to a mere 12 hours.
The Hong Kong government has pinned some high hopes on the HZMB. The $16.7 billion, 26-mile span of concrete will connect Hong Kong to Macau (and the under-construction Hong Kong Disneyland) and the Guangdong province, which politicians are hoping will incentivise serious investment in the sprawling but poor costal area. But the project has rankled environmentalists, who object to its loud and disruptive dredging techniques. There’s doubt, too, that big bridge will open by December 2017. Even 2020, engineers told the Hong Kong Free Press might be pushing it.