When it comes to mega-engineering projects, not many finish under budget or on time. Many residential house builders come in late and over budget, let alone huge multinational crews working across hundreds of miles over many decades. Untold billions have been put into these projects which, when finished, will show just how far our engineering and construction skills have developed in the modern era.
These are just three of the biggest and most awe-inspiring projects being built around the world at this very moment.
Dubailand, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When it was first proposed, way back in 2003, Dubailand was the most ambitious leisure park development ever proposed. Costing a cool $55 billion since then, the 100 square mile park still hasn’t fully opened – as the financial crisis of 2008 caused many investors and partners to lose interest.
However, certain areas have taken root. This includes the world’s largest flower garden, the Dubai Miracle Garden, that displays over 50 million flowers and features a Disney themed topiary garden and 30 metre ‘flower structure replica’ of an Airbus A380 passenger plane. The entire Dubailand complex is scheduled to open fully in 2025, and will provide the world’s largest hotel, a science centre and no less than three different theme parks. Although construction has taken so long, that a rival theme park – Legoland Dubai – has also opened nearby in the meantime.
The Great Man-Made River, Libya
The largest irrigation project in the world, since 1984 the Great Man-Made River has been the biggest ongoing construction project in Africa. Started by eccentric dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, today it brings 6 ½ million cubic litres of water per day from one of the world’s biggest underwater groundwater stores to cities and towns across the country.
So far it has cost 25 billion dollars and has used nearly 3000 miles of underground pipes. Despite the fall of Gaddafi’s government, and the subsequent Libyan civil war, construction is still continuing (although disrupted) in 2019.
Crossrail, London, UK
The Crossrail Project is the first entirely new line to be added to the iconic London Underground tube train network since the 1979 opening of the Jubilee Line. The 12th line of the system, when finished it will be known as The Elizabeth Line. It was originally due to open in late 2019, but that has now been pushed back to 2021 – along with the budget, which has increased from a paltry £15 billion to a current estimate of £17.4 billion.
Covering 73 miles, it will cross London – from Reading in the West to Shenfield in Essex in the East. Needing several tunnels under the Thames that can accommodate up to 12 trains an hour, and an entirely new station in Woolwich, Crossrail is a huge engineering challenge. Back in 2015, workers even discovered a Plague Pit from the 1600s while digging under Liverpool Street station. Still, once completed The Elizabeth Line will be a hugely needed upgrade to London’s celebrated tube network that will hopefully be used for a hundred years or more to come.