There was a time when completing large engineering projects were commissioned on a more regular basis but in this day an age I feel it may not be possible. Some would argue that building a stadium or a skyscraper could be considered a large engineering project, but what I am referring to is the Hoover dam, the Pyramids of Giza, the highway project in the 1950’s and the transcontinental railroad. These were true, large engineering projects and I don’t believe that with all the regulations and union issues, that it would be possible to start and finish such a large project without immense political whiplash or an incomparable amount of lawsuits.
Why it worked in the past…
Frankly and for that matter, unfortunately, most of the world’s greatest projects were created using slave labor, or something very close to it. The 118 pyramids were built by men and women who had no rights, received little to no payment and/or money for building them, and many lost their lives in the process.
The transcontinental railroad was built mostly by Irish and Asian immigrants whose working conditions are severely unacceptable, especially compared to today’s regulations. The rate at which they completed the project clearly means they worked well beyond the standard of today’s work day.
The Hoover dam was built as a way to boost the economy during the depression. While men and women were eager to go to work on the project, 112 people died while building it. Something that would never be allowed to happen in the modern age. Even 1 death is a travesty nowadays, and would spread across news outlets like wildfire emphasizing how the project is doomed and how it was a terrible idea to begin with.
The 1950’s interstate project is the most recent. Suggested by president Eisenhower, it was immense. the goal was to connect the country in a way that was never before seen. much like the railroads in the 1800’s the interstate was meant to enable travel to more places even easier. A trip that would take 30 days prior to the interstate now took only 2. Since it took place in modern times the conditions were quite good when compared to prior projects. However the price tag was a staggering 128 billion dollars. That shocking amount of money would never be able to find its way to the right places nowadays.
That’s not to mention union issues, where to manufacture goods, housing transfer, and so on. The cost for something that big is too high in today’s world. The regulation would restrict it so the length would be ridiculous and it would be political suicide if the project went awry in any way.
I think the closest thing to these examples would have to be the Burj Dubai tower. However even that was built using sub par working conditions.
Why we need one right now…
Take the Hoover dam, when it was commissioned in the 30’s it was designed to create jobs and boost the economy. It worked, and it also created the largest hydroelectric facility on the planet powering most of nevada and southern california. The country could use the boost in it’s economy with a project of that size. Unfortunately it will probably never happen.
Obama has said multiple times that he plans to redesign and re construct our crumbling infrastructure. This means redoing roads, electrical distribution, water, and much more.