The List: The World’s Biggest Construction Projects

Think redoing your kitchen is a headache? Imagine supervising one of these megaprojects. From the Panama Canal to the Yangtze River, the FP List looks at the most massive construction undertakings on the planet.

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South-to-North Water Transfer Project, China

Whos building it: the Chinese government

Budget: $62 billion (445 billion yuan)

Estimated completion date: 2050

What it takes: 400,000 relocated citizens and a very thirsty northern China. Economic development in the North China Plain is booming, but its water supplies are falling short, far short. Desperate farming communities are digging wells as deep as 600 feet to find clean water, but the Chinese government has much more digging in mind. Drawing on an unimplemented proposal from Mao himself, the Communist Party has decided to divert water from the Yangtzea southern river known for its rising tidesto the dry rivers of the north. If it is completed, 12 trillion gallons of water will flow northward yearly through three man-made channels whose combined construction is expected to displace almost 400,000 people. Construction is well underway for the east and central canals, but environmental concerns have kept the western route at the planning stage. The projects $62 billion price tag also makes the South-to-North project by far the most expensive construction project ever in China. But having finished the Three Gorges Dama $25 billion project that has forced the relocation of more than 1 million peopleChina is no stranger to pricy megaprojects.


CityCenter, Las Vegas, Nevada

Whos building it: MGM Mirage

Budget: $8.4 billion

Estimated completion date: 2009

What it takes: 200 million gallons of concrete and a spot on the Las Vegas Strip. MGM Mirage has filled in the last 76 acres of available real estate on the center portion of the Las Vegas Strip with the largest privately funded construction project in the United States. CityCenter, a multi-use plaza with three hotels, a casino, luxury apartments, and retail and dining facilities, will cover about 18 million square feet and may cost as much as $8.4 billion. But MGM is not the only one footing the bill. Dubai World, the state-controlled investment fund, dished out $5 billion for the project and now holds a 50 percent stake in the megaresort. Money hasnt been the only price paid in this projectfour construction workers have died in on-site accidents.


Panama Canal Expansion

Whos building it: the Panamanian government

Budget: $5.2 billion

Estimated completion date: 2014

What it takes: 123 million cubic meters of excavated material and 3,000 ships that just dont fit. Once a marvel of engineering, todays Panama Canal is too narrow to fit 92 percent of the worlds shipping fleet through its passage. More than a quarter of the goods that are transported through its locks are carried on Panamax-size vesselsships that are the maximum size that can fit through the canal. But in a project that broke groundor canal bedin the fall of 2007, the Panama Canal will soon be equipped with the worlds biggest locks, capable of handling most shipping vessels that are over Panamax size. Also, by adding a wider, deeper, and longer third lock lane to the existing two, the project will more than double the canals current effective capacity of 15,000 transits per year.

Foster Partners

Crystal Island, Moscow

Whos building it: Shalva Chigirinsky, oil and real estate mogul

Budget: $4 billion (98 billion rubles)

Estimated completion date: 2014

What it takes: 27 million square feet of floor space in the middle of the Moscow River and an eye for the extreme. In a city booming with petro-wealth projects, Crystal Islanddesigned to be the largest building in the worldis sure to grab most of the attention. Planned as a city in microcosm, this tentlike structure of steel and glass will, if completed, stand at almost 1,500 feet and house 900 apartments, 3,000 hotel rooms, shopping spaces, offices, an international school for 500 students, a major sports complex, an IMAX theater, and a system of solar panels, wind turbines, and naturally insulating winter gardens designed for energy efficiency. Throw in a few onion domes, and Crystal Island could replace Moscow altogether. Filling one of the few large-scale sites left near the citys center, Crystal Island will sit on the Nagatinskaya, a large peninsula that juts into the Moscow River, less than 5 miles from the Kremlin.


Terminal 3, Beijing Capital International Airport

Whos building it: the Chinese government

Budget: $3.65 billion (27 billion yuan)

Estimated completion date: Feb. 29, 2008

What it takes: 50,000 workers, 400 million gallons of concrete, and 1.1 million Olympic spectators. Beijing authorities are expecting at least that many visitors to the capital between Aug. 8 and Aug. 24, many of whom will arrive via the Beijing airports Terminal 3what will be the worlds largest airport terminal. Designed by Foster Partners, a team known for its monumental projects, Beijings newest terminal will cover almost 10.8 million square feet and resemble the back of a scaly dragon when viewed from above. Olympic planners hope the added megaterminal will be enough to support the expected increase from the airports current 1,100 flights daily to as many as 1,900 come Olympic season. And for Beijing, airport renovations are just the beginning. China plans to invest between $40 and $50 billion in work on roads and stadiums. Preparations also include a new subway, improved railway lines, and wheelchair-friendly renovations for Septembers Paralympic Games.

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