Some infrastructure projects can be considered as feats of design and wonders of engineering. But before they came into being, they required some of the costliest constructions ever done. Here are the 10 most expensive construction sites in the world.
10. Mon Fayette Expressway – $5.4 billion
The Mon Fayette Expressway is a tolled freeway that will connect Interstate 68 near Morgantown in West Virginia to Interstate 376 near the city of Pittsburgh. It got its name from the Monongahela River and Fayette County because the original proposal back in the 1950’s called for the highway to connect the coke and steel producing towns in the Monongahela River Valley. Residents in the area still consider the expressway as an important tool in boosting its economy, particularly in revitalizing business in Fayette and Washington counties. The road serves as an alternative to Interstate 79 to its west. It will also help reduce congestion of traffic along the PA 51 alignment from Pittsburgh to Uniontown.
9. Oakland Bay Bridge – $6.2 billion
The Oakland Bay Bridge is a pair of two-level bridges that span the San Francisco Bay. Originally, the top level was meant for automobiles while the lower carried trucks and trains. Eventually, the lower level was converted to road traffic as well after Key System Transit Lines closed down. The western part of the bridge is a suspension bridge that connects San Francisco with Yerba Buena Island. The eastern span connects the island with Oakland. It used to be a cantilever bridge, but it has now been reconstructed as a self-anchored suspension bridge.
8. International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – $6.5 billion
The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER, is a nuclear fusion research and engineering project being undertaken by seven members, namely the European Union, United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and India. The European Union is the main funder and host of the program, shouldering 45 percent of the entire cost. It is constructing an experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor at the Cadarache facility in southern France. It aims to bring into fruition the studies detailing the conversion of plasma physics to fusion power plants that can produce electricity.
7. Trans-Alaska Pipeline System – $8 billion
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, is one of the largest pipeline systems in the world. It includes the trans-Alaska crude oil pipeline, the Valdez Marine terminal, 12 pump stations and hundreds of miles of feeder pipelines. It was built in the mid 70’s in response to the oil crisis of 1973. The dramatic spike in oil prices had made the exploration of oil in Prudhoe Bay economically viable. It was one of the first large projects to deal with construction problems brought about by permafrost and frozen ground.
6. CVN-78 Class Aircraft Carrier – $13.5 billion
The CVN-78 is a class of supercarriers from the United States Navy. It is called the Gerald R. Ford, after the 38th President of the United States. It is scheduled to join the Navy fleet in 2015. It will weigh around 100,000 tons and will be powered by two A1B reactors. It can go at a speed of more than 30 knots with an unlimited range. It is designed to last up to 25 years. The ship is to be manned by 4,660 personnel and can carry more than 75 planes. Its weapons include the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, the Rolling Airframe Missile and the Close-In Weapons System, or CIWS.
5. James Bay Project – $20 billion
The James Bay Project is a series of hydroelectric power stations on the La Grande River in the northwest part of Quebec and the diversion of a couple of rivers into the La Grande watershed. It is one of the largest hydroelectric systems in the world with an installed generating capacity of 16,527 megawatts. It also has provisions for future expansion that if carried out means a total generating capacity of 27,000 megawatts. It was built by the Societe d’Energie de la Baie James for Hydro-Quebec.
4. Central Artery/Tunnel Project – $22 billion
The Central/Artery Tunnel Project, or CA/T, is a mega road project in Boston that is popularly known as The Big Dig. The project called for the construction of a tunnel 5.6 kilometers long in order to reroute the Central Artery that is part of Interstate 93, which served as the chief highway through the city. It included the construction of the Ted Williams Tunnel to extend Interstate 90 to Logan International Airport, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge and a series of parks and public spaces called the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
3. Three Gorges Dam – $25 billion
The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric project in Hubei Province in China. It spans the Yangtze River and is considered to be the largest power station in the world in terms of installed capacity at 22,500 megawatts. The body of the dam was completed in 2006, while the 32 main turbines were finished in 2012. The dam also serves as a flood deterrent by providing storage space for floodwaters. It is also expected to help increase the shipping capacity of the river.
2. Itaipu Dam – $27 billion
The Itaipu Dam is a hydroelectric dam located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay. It supplies 90 percent of the electricity of Paraguay and 19 percent of Brazil’s requirements. It has an installed capacity of 14,000 megawatts. The energy it generates every year is the largest in the world, running 94.7 TWh and 91.6 TWh in 2008 and 2009, significantly higher than that of Three Gorges Dam with the latter’s 80.8 and 79.4 TWh.
1. International Space Station – $157 billion
The International Space Station, or ISS, is the ninth inhabitable space station in the world, following in the footsteps of Salyut, Almaz, Skylab and Mir. This modular structure is in low Earth orbit and was launched in 1998. It is a joint project among five different space agencies, namely NASA of the United States, the Federal Space Agency of Russia, JAXA of Japan, ESA of the European Union and CSA of Canada. Astronauts from 15 countries have visited it.