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Development Hell / Transportation Infrastructure

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Transportation infrastructure is a very complicated business from an engineering standpoint, and also from an economics standpoint (since nobody can ever agree on the most likely economic impact of the new infrastructure) and from a political standpoint (since inevitably these things get people nearby riled up for or against them, with the pro-side usually saying something like "Jobs!" and the anti-side usually saying "Too Expensive!" and "Noise and Smell!"note ). As a result, infrastructure projects tend to get hit with this trope very easily.


  • U.S. Route 31 has slowly been in the process of conversion to freeway from South Bend, Indiana to just east of Benton Harbor, Michigan. A leg on the west side of Niles, Michigan was opened in 1992 as a divided highway without exits but later upgraded. The next-to-last stretch was completed in 2003, but halted just a couple miles shy of an obvious hookup into the existing I-94/I-196 exit, due to a creek in the freeway's path being the habitat for a rare species of butterfly. Further north, there have also been plans to bypass Holland and Grand Haven to the east with an additional freeway routing (the only other portion of US-31 between the state line and Ludington which is not a freeway), but the only piece so far has been M-231, a two-lane eastern bypass of Grand Haven which opened in 2015.
  • The attempts to have a complete commuter rail system in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas have been hampered with multiple delays, which can't be completely surprising since the two major cities have separate transit authorities; it now looks like it was a major miracle that the Trinity Railway Express connecting the two was even completed at all, let alone back in 2001. DART's Orange light rail line was originally supposed to be complete by December 2012; while most of it is operational, the final extension to DFW Airport was pushed back until 2014 (but was finished two months ahead of the new December '14 target date). The Cotton Belt corridor line connecting the airport to the northern suburbs now has a proposed implementation date of 2025 at the earliest. Meanwhile, The TEX commuter rail line to run through Fort Worth originally had a proposed completion date of 2012. It's currently been pushed all the way to late 2018 - and that's just for the first half that will connect downtown to Grapevine and DFW Airport; the southern end running to the medical district and TCU has been put off indefinitely.
    • Another hurdle the cities have had to overcome is Arlington, which is believed to have long been the largest city in America with no public transit and whose citizens constantly vote down any transit plan. This is a huge problem for the Metroplex since Arlington sits in the middle and is one of the area's biggest tourist destinations, now being the home to the Dallas Cowboys in addition to the Texas Rangers baseball team and the Six Flags Over Texas theme park. In 2013, the city has agreed to a bus line connecting downtown Arlington and its entertainment district to the nearest Trinity Railway stop, only to discontinue the service in 2017 in favor of a city-sponsored rideshare service.
    • Another example in the Metroplex, State Highway 360. South of Interstate 20, the main road ends and the highway continues as frontage roads, complete with dummy entrance and exit ramps, continues until the Ellis County line at US Highway 287. Subsequent plans have included possibly making it a tollroad in order to finish completion, with the latest proposal up in the air as of 2013.
  • Sydney's second airport. Everyone agrees that the city badly needs one (since at least the 1980s, possibly earlier), but nobody's been able to find a good place for it, and the huge amount of costs would mean that the city might not even have one by 2020. (As of 2014, they've finally found a spot in Badgerys Creek.)
    • The North-West Rail Link, Epping to Cherrybrook to Congegong Road has been wanted since the 80's and is now being built, but will be finished by 2023.
  • There were several grandiose plans in the past to expand the New York City Subway to areas that do not have subway service, notably Staten Island and eastern Queens. Though discussion remains strong to develop some of these lines to alleviate existing subway capacity constraints and overcrowding (and provisions were built for future expansion), they never went past the drawing board for various reasons, including funding problems, not-in-my-backyard activism and changes in the overall economy. Aside from the infamous 2nd Avenue Line (which was on the planning board since the 1920s before being finally open for service in 2017), some of these proposals included:
    • Extensions of the Astoria, Fulton Steet, Flatbush, Archer Avenue, Crosstown, Broadway, 6th Avenue, Concourse and Flushing Lines.
    • New subway lines:
      • Under Utica Avenue in Brooklyn to Sheepshead Bay (either from via Worth Street or from Crown Heights via the Eastern Parkway Line's express tracks).
      • Under Worth Street in Manhattan to the Rockaways (where it would connect the proposed Utica Avenue Line at South Fourth Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with the 8th Avenue Line's local tracks south of Canal Street).
      • Under Fresh Pond Road to Maspeth (where it would connect with the Myrtle Avenue Line and provide thorough service to the Rockaways via the LIRR's disused Rockaway Branch; the Rockaways are now connected to the subway via the Fulton Street Line).
      • Under Lafayette Avenue to Throggs Neck (in the Bronx).
      • Under Boston Post Road to Co-op City (also in the Bronx - would either be an extension of the Concourse Line, a spur of the 2nd Avenue Line or a combination of the two).
    • The Rockaways get special mention here: a proposal in 1929 had the LIRR's Rockaway Branch be connected from the Myrtle Avenue Line (via the 8th Avenue Line's Worth Street spur), while another in 1939 had it connect with both the Fulton Street and Queens Boulevard Lines (as bellmouths were built east of 63rd Drive for the proposed connection to the Rockaway Branch). It wasn't until 1956 that the Rockaways were finally connected to the subway via Fulton Street, while the city never filed any paperwork to abandon the section between Rego Park and Ozone Park. To this day, discussion remains strong to reactivate the abandoned right-of-way for passenger service.
    • The Queens Boulevard Line is another case: While its construction in the 1930s promoted housing growth along Queens Boulevard and stimulated the urbanization of central Queens, there are multiple provisions for branch lines along the route that were never built for various reasons:
      • The spur to the Rockaways east of 63rd Drive via the LIRR's Rockaway Branch.
      • Another spur to either Glendale or Maspeth from Jackson Heights.
      • Another spur east of Briarwood along the former Van Wyck Boulevard to South Ozone Park (which was later used for the Archer Avenue Line to Jamaica Center - and it too was to be extended towards SE Queens).
      • An extension of the line beyond 179th Street to Bellerose.
      • Another spur east of Woodhaven Boulevard to Bayside via the Long Island Expressway (the Woodhaven Boulevard stop would be converted to an express station to reflect this change).
      • A "super-express bypass" that would utilize the LIRR's Main Line to skip all stops between 36th Street and Forest Hills, to be used during rush hours.
    • The 2nd Avenue Line was first proposed way back in 1929 and became more pressing with the demolition of the 2nd and 3rd Avenue els that used to serve the East Side of Manhattan until the 1950's — currently, the nearest line that serves the area is the Lexington Avenue Line (the 4, 5, and 6 trains), which alone serves more passengers than the entire Washington Metro system (the second-busiest mass transit system in the US). City bond issues for the line were approved by voters twice (1951 and 1967note ) and construction finally began in 1972...right before the city became insolvent. The idea was finally put back on track in 2005 with another voter-approved bond issue, and the first segment from Lexington Avenue-63rd Street to 96th Street finally opened at the beginning of January 2017, as an extension of the Q train from the Broadway Line.
    • Staten Island does not have subway service, despite having its own rapid transit line (SIRTOA). Over the years, various attempts to link the Staten Island Railroad to the subways through either a tunnel or via the Verrazano Bridge and connect it with the 4th Avenue Line south of 95th Street have been shot down like the other expansion proposals, including a lack of funding, political bickering and NIMBYism. On the 4th Avenue Line, provisions were built in anticipation of the proposed connection, including plans to extend the express tracks south of 59th Street.
  • A similar story applies for the Roosevelt Boulevard Subway, a proposed extension/branch of Philadelphia's Broad Street Line. First proposed in 1913 and first seriously studied in the 1940s, they actually began tentative construction in 1967, and funding was approved for the project in the early 1970s...just before local opposition in Northeast Philadelphia (which would be served by the route) put the kibosh on it for reasons that had nothing to do with race riots. By the 1990s, support for the project picked up, but by that point, the money was gone, spent to build a (much-needed) tunnel connecting the city's three main commuter/intercity rail stations (30th Street, Suburban, and Market East) (and a station at Temple University). Today, there's talk of going through with it...if a plan to enhance bus service along the route indicates that a higher-capacity service would be used. (We should note that Uncle Sam already rates it as the highest potential ridership of any unbuilt transit line after the Second Avenue Line.)
  • Supposedly, the strategic plan for New York City's MTA accountant for the subway system's dire need to modernize, especially for accessibility purposes. The majority of subway stations in New York City aren't wheelchair accessible, but the issue seems to have taken a back seat to the construction of the Second Avenue Subway and the IRT Flushing Line extension, not to mention repairing the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
  • I-95 is the major highway along the East Coast of the United States, stretching from Miami all the way up through Maine to the Canadian border. Despite being one of the first routes of the Interstate Highway System planned and started when the Interstate was first proposed in the 50's, it is still not one continuous route long after most of the nationwide system was built by the 1980's. The original plan was to build a new highway through New Jersey to connect Philadelphia and New York City, but thanks to both freeway revolts (locals feared that the highway would bring unwanted development to area farmland) and opposition by the New Jersey Turnpike (what would you rather travel - a tolled road or a free one?note ), the proposed Somerset Freeway got canned. In 1995, due to increasing traffic along US 206 and New Jersey Route 31, this motivated officials in Mercer County to have New Jersey reconsider building the Somerset Freeway as a way to reduce congestion on local roads, but it was ruled out because of a hefty $700 million price tag. Also around this time, I-95 was extended east along I-295 between the site of the Somerset Freeway interchange and US 1 in Lawrence Township, while being extended down the New Jersey Turnpike (until Exit 6) and then west along the Pearl Harbor Memorial Extension to known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike Connector via the Delaware River–Turnpike Toll Bridge. The gap is currently being rectified by a new project in Pennsylvania, which is expected to finish in 2018.
  • The Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which is supposed to replace Berlin's two current international airports (Tegel and Schönefeld), has been in construction since 2006, and is suffering from a plethora of problems (most prominently the fire protection system) that led to exploding costs and the repeated delay of the opening date. As of now (2016), only tiny parts of the airport (such as the cargo center) have been opened. However, the S-Bahn station actually is open and sees somewhat regular train service (without passengers) to keep mold from growing.
  • The expansion of I-69 into a true Canada-to-Mexico corridor has been on the drawing board since the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. It was supposed to have been completed around 2012. Planned segments in southern Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi (planned to connect the existing northern I-69 route to I-69 in Texas) have been bogged down in political wrangling and budget woes since 2011.
    • Even before that, I-69 had a big gap for several miles on either side of Lansing, Michigan. From 1973 to 1992, a "Temporary I-69" designation was placed on a surface highway with intersections until the Interstate was finally completed.
  • Warsaw Metro rail system was envisioned as early as 1920s. Crisis, war and destruction of most of the city delayed construction until 1984 when first tunnels were dug. It wasn't until 1995 when first half (between city center and south) of the first line was finished (for those counting, that's around 2 meters a day). Stations further north were gradually built and opened until completion in 2008. Luckily, despite some delays, the second line is progressing quicker (started 2010, first stations to be opened in late 2014).
  • Currently, I-73 exists as a rather short intrastate highway (around 100 miles or so) connecting Stokesdale and Ellerbe, North Carolina. Plans to extend it southward to just north of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, seem to be ready to go, but northward to an undisclosed location (Roanoke, VA and Grayling, MI, the latter at US 127's terminus at I-75, being among the locations kicked about) has run into similar problems that I-69 faces.
  • New York City's largest train station, Penn Station, is currently a rather dreary underground complex beneath Madison Square Garden that feels more like an airport, especially when compared to Grand Central Terminal, which has been lovingly restored. As the Garden has been facing land-use difficulty and people have never really forgotten the demolition of the original Beaux-Arts Penn Station in 1963, there is currently an ungodly struggle between those who want to renovate the old James Farley Post Office next door and turn it into a new rail hub (to be named Moynihan Station after the great sociologist, diplomat, and Senator from New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan) and those who want MSG to pack up and go somewhere else with a new Penn Station to be rebuilt on the old site. A lack of money for either project has kept this tension bubbling along since at least 2000.
  • When the Las Vegas Monorail opened along the east side of the Vegas Strip in 2004, connecting several of the Strip's casino resorts, the original plans had it expanding to nearby McCarran International Airport and Downtown Vegas, but its ridership has never been enough to warrant such. The primary reason for this is that the stations are located at the far back of the resorts, many of them are sprawling, and none of the resorts on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard are included, so most visitors find it quicker to walk from the entrances of one resort to another, especially resorts that aren't on the line. Even the hopes that it would ease the Strip's notorious traffic congestion failed to be fulfilled.
    • Interestingly, in the game Fallout: New Vegas, the monorail does go from downtown New Vegas to the airport. So apparently, they finished it some time before the nuclear apocalypse in 2077.
  • Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport has three main buildings: the main terminal, housing ticketing, check-in, a number of other things, and the "Z" gates, and two long "midfield" terminal buildings parallel to the main one, the closer building housing Concourses A and B and the farther one housing Concourses C and D. The farther one is supposedly a "temporary" building (despite housing United Airlines, for which Dulles is a major hub)...and has been since it was built in 1983. They haven't even started accepting proposals for the design of the "permanent" building.
  • The Southeastern Parkway and Greenbelt, a proposed highway connecting the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake in southeastern Virginia, was first proposed in 1985 as a means to alleviate traffic congestion along the interstates and surface roads in Southside Hampton Roads and provide a new inlet to Virginia Beach, which was then connected to the rest of the area only by State Road 44, a tolled highway. Since this point, it's been killed and re-proposed multiple times, with the two cities variously backing out to divert resources to other roadway projects inside their own borders. Hampton Roads' unified transportation authority has also roadblocked the proposed roadway at various points, and even when all three parties have finally settled in and jointly approved a plan to build the Southeastern Parkway, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration and/or the Environmental Protection Agency have jointly or individually killed every proposal.

    Most routes had the Virginia Beach end of the Parkway starting at the former SR-44, which was remarked as an extension of Interstate 264 at the Turn of the Millennium,note  just outside of Oceana Naval Air Station, and looping around to the south and west; the Chesapeake end, meanwhile, would have tied in at the junction of I-64, I-464 and VA-168,note  over-riding Dominion Boulevard, which was badged as VA-104 until around the same time as the 44-to-264 switchover, when Dominion was redesignated as US-17.note  The problem with any route connecting these two points is that all the land in between is either heavily developed or swamps, and with all the swampland that's already been torn out to build South Hampton Roads and the associated problems with flooding, the federal government has proven leery to approve any more such conversion. The last environmental study was terminated in 2010, at which point the local parties moved on to other projects, such as improvements to I-264 in Virginia Beach,note  some of which have reached the early construction phase while others have entered Development Hell due to issues with the suburban sprawl along the highway's length; investigating proposals for a new crossing over the James River between the Southside and Peninsula sections of Hampton Roads; and a conversion of US-17 south of I-64 to an elevated highway to alleviate both the traffic problems and massive flooding issues from the Elizabeth Rivernote .
  • Also from Eastern Virginia, the expansion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to four lanes. While the above-water portion of the roadway (the only direct link between the Eastern Shore and mainland Virginia, specifically northern Virgnia Beach)note  has been four lanes since construction of parallel bridge spans and subsequent rehabilitation of the orignal spans was finished in 1999, the addition of accompanying parallel tubes to the current two-lane tunnel sections (located underneath the Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake shipping channelsnote ) was indefintely postponed in 2005 over concerns about funding.note  In 2012, plans were finally put back on the books, and preliminary work began in summer 2017 - but only for the southern tunnel at Thimble Shoals; the northern tunnel at Chseapeake Channel won't see construction on its parallel tube begin until at least 2037.
  • Any large scale intercity rail infrastructure in the US. Take California as an example. Back in the 1980s governor Jerry Brown (at the time one of the youngest in California history) had the wacky idea of building a High Speed Rail link from San Francisco to Los Angeles, just like France was doing at the time and Germany was getting ready to for their major cities. Ultimately nothing came of it before he left office, but numerous groups continued to push and lobby waiting for the right moment to get a ballot measure passed, which ultimately happened in 2008. Obama (at that time still with filibuster-proof majorities in both houses) proposed a federal high speed rail program and California was to be one of the beneficiaries. In 2015 governor Jerry Brown (in his fourth term, now one of the oldest in California history) could finally announce that construction would start and personally attended a groundbreaking ceremony. If all goes as planned, trains will be running as soon as the early 2020s - over part of the route.
  • The Verkehrsprojekte Deutsche Einheit or traffic projects of German unity. As the name indicates they were set up after reunification to reestablish severed connections between East and West and restore the deteriorated East German transit networks to a more modern state. While some of the projects are now finished, as of this writing (2016) several still aren't - and for some there is not even a tentative date for completion. One of the most important, a High Speed Rail link from Berlin to Nuremberg (and from there onwards to Munich) is still only half done. The Berlin-Leipzig section (200km/hnote ) opened in 2006. The Leipzig-Erfurt section (300 km/h) opened in December 2015 and the Nuremberg-Erfurt section (mostly 300km/h) opened in December 2017. That's almost three decades after the need to build this ASAP was declared by the federal government.
  • The Leipzig City Tunnel - a rail tunnel under downtown Leipzig. Suffice to say that a first attempt to build it was interrupted by the First World War and ultimately Angela Merkel was a guest of honor at the grand opening.
  • The Channel Tunnel between England and France. According to historians, Napoleon Bonaparte discussed the topic with a British counterpart during (ultimately futile) peace negotiations and the topic came up in various forms throughout the 19th and 20th century. Construction ultimately started in late 1987 and the first trains in revenue service ran in 1994. While the tunnel (or rather the trains that run in it) now accounts for a larger chunk of the London-Paris travel market than all airlines combined, it is still perceived (particularly in Britain) as too expensive due to cost overruns and economic problems with the private company that was supposed to own operate and make a profit from the tunnel.
  • With all the transportation infrastructure getting stuck in development hell forever mentioned above, the few aversions stick out even more. Most French LGV (Lignes a Grande Vitesse, high speed lines) were built within a decade of their first conception. This is mostly because the TGV is incredibly popular in France and being against it is the political equivalent of running a campaign in the US in opposition to apple pie and firefighters. However, since the Turn of the Millennium and in The New '10s, some projects have gotten a certain run in with Not in My Backyard! types as well.
  • Rome's Metro system is pretty small. Construction of the third line, Line C, has progressed very slowly. This is in large part because Line C runs through some of the most historic parts of the Eternal City, and when you're digging a tunnel between the Caelian and Palatine Hills, it's basically impossible not to run into some kind of trove of priceless Ancient Roman artifacts that the archaeologists have to carefully excavate before work can start again. Not wanting to wait before central Rome has finally been pierced for interchanges, the outer stretches have already been built and put into service to a generous degree before.
  • There currently is an Interstate 74; it begins in Cinncinati, Ohio and runs to Iowa, just on the other side of the Mississippi River. Then there's the other Interstate 74 in North Carolina. Currently this highway consists of several disconnected segments, all of which are in the state:
    • One segment begins in a concurrency with Interstate 77 at the NC/Virginia border and ends south of Mount Airy at US 52.
    • Another segment begins at I-40 in Winston-Salem and ends in Ellerbe. (Incidentally, 74 spends much of this segment concurred with I-73, which, as seen above, is an example of this itself)
    • One segment in the southern part of the state running along US 74 between Rockingham and Lumberton.
    • The plan is to connect both sections of I-74 in some way (so the Interstate runs uninterrupted from Iowa to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (where Interstate 73 also happens to be proposed to end), but political and budgetary difficulties mean that this will likely take a good long while, if it ever happens at all.
  • The Berlin U And S Bahn has a "200-Kilometer-Plan" dating back to the 1950s, that would make the U-Bahn a 200-km system. As of 2017, the system is just over 150 km long and obviously many elements of that plan still haven't been built. While some may never see the light of day, there are a few interesting cases, like an extension to Tegel Airport, which is now planned to be built once the airport shuts down to better connect the neighborhood that will be built on the grounds. Or they will just extend the tram which, at the time the 200 km plan was written, was in the process of being wound down in the West. The most ocular legacies are two bi-level cross-platform interchange stations where one track is served by a line and another isn't and is fenced in instead: Jungfernheide (U7, lacking U5) and Schlossstraße (U9, lacking U10).
  • Interstate 3, also known as the Third Infantry Division Highway, was proposed as a new interstate highway back in 2005 as a means to link Savannah, Georgia with Augusta, Georgia and Knoxville, Tennessee. Well over a decade has passed since the highway was first proposed, and from day one it has been stuck in this trope due to not just budgetary issues, but also environmental concernsnote  and indecision over the route Interstate 3 would actually take to get to Knoxville (especially in regards to the aforementioned environmental concerns). By comparison, fellow interstate highway Interstate 14 (a highway set to run from Fort Stockton, Texas to the Augusta area) was proposed at the same time Interstate 3 was, and while it did take a while for that highway to be officially greenlit, it still hasn't been hit with nearly as much trouble as Interstate 3 has; eventually getting its first 25-mile long segment in Texas in January 2017 and having its Georgia segment (the Fall Line Freeway) planned and being built as of this writing.
  • Right next to the EPR project special credit must go to the Lyon-Turin project which consists of building a high-speed line between the third most populous and second most wealthy metropolis in France on the Western side and the fourth most populous and third most wealthy metropolis of Italy, on the Eastern side of the border. The project began to really gather steam from 2004 onward and truly began in late 2016, with the bilateral treaty that provides for the budget and the red-tape accreditation being validated by the French Senate on the 26th of January, the year after. As of now, in September 2018, we can say that the work really is in progress, but it is still widely regarded as one of France's worst "white elephant" projects ever.
  • For decades the city of San Antonio, Texas, has had two major thoroughfares named Wurzbach: one called Wurzbach Road and the other Wurzbach Parkway. Throughout almost all of that time the two thoroughfares were disconnected from each other, with the only way to get from one to the other being via much smaller side streets. Construction began on a connection between the two thoroughfares in 1994; some twenty-one years later in 2015, the project finally ended and the two thoroughfares were joined at last.

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