Why do major infrastructure projects fail?Posted: September 2, 2010 Filed under: Cars & traffic, Infrastructure, Public transport | Tags: Clem 7, Clem Jones Tunnel, infrastructure failures, Infrastructure financing, Matt O'Sullivan, Midtown Tunnel, Peninsula Link, Public transport, Rivercity Motorway, roads 15 Comments
It was reported this week that the new Clem Jones Tunnel in Brisbane (known as the Clem7) is in diabolical financial trouble due to traffic levels that are well below those forecast.
Fewer than 30,000 vehicles a day are using the tunnel even though tolls were halved from 1 July (now $2 for a car). This compares with a forecast of 60,000 on opening, rising to 100,000 after 18 months. The operator of the tunnel, Rivercity Motorway, posted a $1.67 billion loss for the year to 30th June.
Clem7 joins a growing list of infrastructure projects funded on the basis of overly optimistic forecasts of initial usage. These include Sydney’s Lane Cove and Cross City tunnels, the Brisbane and Sydney airport trains, Melbourne’s Eastlink, and the 2,250 km Freightlink rail line connecting Adelaide and Darwin.
The Age’s Matt O’Sullivan is gob-smacked that Clem7’s transport consultants could have forecast traffic levels higher than those on New Yorks Midtown Tunnel, given that Brisbane’s population is a quarter of the City of New York’s:
“Yet traffic forecasters predicted that thousands more motorists would use the new Clem7 tunnel under the Brisbane River every day than another four-lane artery in New York linking Queens with central Manhattan.
“Running under the East River, the two-kilometre Midtown Tunnel has had about 80,000 vehicles passing through it each day. And it has been that way for much of the 70-year-old tunnel’s life. Half a world away in the Sunshine State, well-paid traffic forecasters had predicted that 91,000 vehicles daily would use the Clem7 by now and, by late next year, more than 100,000”.
What strikes me immediately is that this is not a sensible comparison. It’s highly likely the Midtown Tunnel is at capacity and probably has been for a very long time. Read the rest of this entry »
Where are the (infrastructure) white elephants?Posted: August 25, 2010 Filed under: Decentralisation, Infrastructure | Tags: Clem 7, Docklands, Eastlink, Federation Square, Infrastructure, MYKI, National Wine Centre, Southern Star Observation Wheel, white elephant 7 Comments
With the renewed political focus on regional development, it’s timely to think about white elephants – in this instance specifically about Infrastructure White Elephants.
Anytime politicians are excited by regional development, herds of white elephants can’t be far away. I touched on this important matter in a previous post on “visionary” projects, but now I’m interested to know which projects, if any, qualify as Infrastructure White Elephants.
To begin with I’ll use a simple definition – according to Wiki, a white elephant is a valuable possession whose level of use is low relative to its cost to build and maintain.
On that definition I’d be tempted to include Sydney’s Cross City tunnel and Brisbane’s Clem 7 under-river tunnel on my list of provisional white elephants, as initial traffic levels were much lower than forecast. Then going back a bit, other potential candidates might include the Ord River Scheme and more recently the Alice Springs to Darwin rail line. Read the rest of this entry »