The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

If you thought that your city royally bungled a light rail development or a highway widening project, Jalopnik readers are about to blow your mind.

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!

We stuck to more contemporary transportation projects for this list, as that's what our readers really wanted to kvetch about. No one was particularly interested in the obnoxious delays in construction on the infamous Berlin-Baghdad Railroad project and honestly, we couldn't tell you if there was some kind of devastating cost overrun when the Romans built Via Appia or anything like that.

So here are the most wasteful transportation projects of the automotive age, though many of them have nothing to do with cars. A number of these projects never got started, and with hindsight that's probably for the best.

With only room for ten projects, we had to leave a huge number of failed, terrible light rail, monorail, commuter rail, and assorted other transportation missteps as honorable mentions. Let us know what hated piece of transportation planning we left off in Kinja below.

Photo Credit: "Ride the Dubai Metro" by doc7austin


10.) The Big Dig

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

There are those who loathe how the Big Dig tore up Boston and there are those who praise it as saving the city, but reader ranwhenparked put the whole thing best.

I don't think anyone argues that the Big Dig wasn't an amazing engineering undertaking and wasn't a totally necessary project to relieve congestion and improve traffic flow, but going $20 billion over budget on a $4 billion project isn't something that generally happens when proper financial controls are in place.

Suggested By: Who needs swaybars anyway?, Photo Credit: Getty Images


9.) The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

Car enthusiasts worship the Aqualine, as that's where Japan's legendary streetracers of Midnight Club raced, but reader TokyoBayAqualine (who is quite familiar with the Midnight Club) explains why the road isn't as perfect as it seems.

It cost 11.2 Billion USD at the time of opening, and it was made solely to make the hour and half long trek through downtown Tokyo quicker by over an hour. It was a massive industrial undertaking, and was started decades before completion. Its cost was a brilliant show of needless excess, as by the time of opening people simply couldn't afford to take it, making it pretty much useless.

Original toll was something ridiculous, like $25USD one way, making it only viable for truckers, buses, and hashiriya (street racers) who would race down it's insanely long underwater tunnel. Although since going down in price to something more reasonable, it's still rarely used by the general public.

Suggested By: TokyoBayAqualine, Photo Credit: Dayou_X


8.) BC Ferries' Fast Cat Fleet

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

Building a fleet of giant catamarans is a job for a large country, so when Vancouver decided to attempt it as a means of bolstering its struggling shipbuilding industry, people were rightfully skeptical. Reader Ed91 explains how it went sour.

The cost of [the ferries] rocketed to CDN$460m from projected CDN$210m, it would have been far cheaper and better to buy in the Aussie Sea-cats, but due to Union pressure and Govt. gutlessness that wasnt possible.

In the end the ferries languished on the North Shore in various states of construction, until they were sold on years later for a mere CDN$19m.

Suggested By: Ed91, Photo Credit: Tom Magliery


7.) Sydney's Monorail

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

This list wouldn't be complete without a monorail. Australian reader LandofMinos explains how the $60 million project sucked.

Yep, that was us! In 1988, our beautiful harbour city had moved closer to the 21st century with a clearly advanced public transport option... And where does such a highly regarded and 'proven' glorified amusement park ri— sorry "public transport" option takes the average Sydney-sider?

On a lengthy 2.2 mile circuit! Running between a small part of the city to a small part of Darling Harbour right next to the CBD.

So at lunch time, all the office workers in the city now have slightly more options on where to go for lunch... Just as long as they're prepared to pay over $5.50 to get to their desired place of lunch within the same time it takes to walk!

Suggested By: LandOfMinos, Photo Credit: The Simpsons


6.) Hawaii's Haunted Highway

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

Interstate H-3 finished in 1997 at a cost of $1.3 billion, or $80 million per mile. Reader cesariojpn clears up what's so bad about the highway.

Proposed in the 1960's to connect Pearl Harbor/Hickam and Kaneohe Marine Corp base as a defensive measure back in the day. Not started till the 1980's due to planning and protests. Native Hawaiian Practitioners demand the Interstates dismantling cause it intrudes and desecrates into a culturally significant area, despite Hawaii's most reputable museum, Bishop Museum, says otherwise. Native Hawaiians refuse to use it, and report the highway is cursed as well.

Suggested By: cesariojpn, Photo Credit: Donjiro Ban


5.) The Bridge To Nowhere

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

Alaska's infamous Gravina Island Bridge Project would have been a $338 million bridge to serve 50 residents. All that's left is the above Road to Nowhere, leading up to the nonexistent bridge.

Suggested By: 900turbo, Photo Credit: Tom Brady


4.) Montreal's Airport That's Larger Than Montreal

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

Montreal-Mirabel airport was designed for the Montreal Olympics and it did that job very well. After the Olympics, however, Montreal realized they'd built an airport that was 397 square kilometers in size, bigger than the entire city it served. Now it's mostly empty.

Suggested By: KDS, Photo Credit: Doug


3.) Spain's No-Flights Airports

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

In the construction boom a few years ago, Spain spent billions building and improving 24 airports. Demand (and money) dried up, dotting the country with ghost airports, and Spanish Civil Aviation reports that 15 of them operate just one commercial flight or fewer per day.

Reader PaganiDude covered the whole of the problem, but we'll just point to a single failure: Castellon Airport.

This airport was built at the cost of 1 billion Euros! The airport was been finished but never been opened or operated. The problem being that a perfectly suitable international airport is only 30 miles away. The airport still has an operating budget of over €500,000 a year to pay for security guards and contracted employees.

Suggested By: PaganiDude, Photo Credit: Showbits


2.) The Dubai Metro

The Ten Most Wasteful Transportation Projects In Modern History

If you thought that Dubai would just throw money at a subway system that didn't actually do its city any good...you'd be right! Reader dahab explains.

This thing cost $7.6 billion. While its used by the majority of the population, it was mainly just like their other multi-billion 'world first' projects and it didn't contribute very well to their debt either.

They even have classes, gold and silver (gold is double the price) despite the ridiculously short journeys and the 49 present stations.

Suggested By: dahab, Photo Credit: UggBoy


1.) Argentine Space Shuttle Service

You can't get more absurd than a project to offer commercial flights from your second-tier nation...with space shuttles. Argentinian president Carlos Menem made the proposal, as you can see in the above video.

Reader Telumektar translates.

"We will open the invitation to tender for a space-flight system, by which, from a platform that may be installed in the province of Córdoba, these spacecraft will leave the atmosphere, going up into the stratosphere and from there it will choose its destination. So that in an hour and half we can go from Argentina to Japan, Korea or anywhere in the world."

The zenith of making shit up as you go.

There's even a popular saying in the River Plate zone (Argetinian-Uruguayan shared river) were when someone points out that something is absurd, too costly, out of proportion or just a plain lie someone would say "Menem did it".

Suggested By: Telumektar