This is my new blog, which I’d like to use to, among other things, explore issues relating to state capacity in handling megaprojects, both physical and digital. It seems to me that we don’t know how to build big things in a timely and cost effective way anymore, though we did 100-years ago.
In Toronto, we’re moving forward with plans for a much-needed downtown relief subway line, the Ontario Line, at a of cost over $700-million per km. In contrast, the median urban subway around the world costs less than $300-million per km.
There are many reasons why big infrastructure projects cost more and take longer to complete than they should, including but in no way limited to political interference. The Ontario Line is itself a reconfiguring of the older proposed Downtown Relief Line by a new Provincial government.
I think that it’s important to first understand that this is in fact the case, as most political debate seems to be centred on how to pay for these projects rather than how to pay less for them.
This extends to digital projects as well, evidenced most infamously by the Phoenix pay system, which could end up costing the federal government $2.2-billion (for software!) to complete.
If we could agree that we should be getting a lot more bang for our buck out of these projects, and start to identify and address the reasons why that isn’t happening, we could build ourselves a much better city, province, and country.
Given the potential benefits of competent state lead megaproject management, I think that much more attention should be focused on this problem than there currently is. And to that end, I’ll try to contribute in my own little way.