Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mega-Projects Latest


New Bernard Matthews turkey shed takes shape


Latest news from the gee-wiz-that's-a-big-one-you've-got-there-vicar front:

Project One- "Construction on the £4.3 billion Heathrow Terminal 5 complex began in 2002. Since when, the project has successfully moved 9 million cubic metres of earth; erected the roof of UK's biggest free-standing building; transported the 900-tonne top cab of a new 87m high control tower 2km across the airfield; bored over 13km of tunnels for rail and baggage; diverted two rivers; and installed over 30,000 sq metres of glass facades. All T5's footprint is contained within a former sewage works at the western end of the existing airport, situated between the two runways, adjacent to the M25.

With 366 days to go (leap year in 2008), over 90% of construction-related work is complete and the project remains on time and on budget."

Project Two- The £800m Wembley stadium finally opened for business. It's nearly seven years since the last game at the old stadium. The project has been delivered a year late, and around £200m over budget (see full grisly timeline here)

Project Three- "THE organisers of London’s 2012 Olympics will this week reveal that knotweed has invaded the sites of two of the main arenas — leaving the games with a clear-up bill which experts predict could top £70m. Surveys of the site in Stratford, east London, have revealed a 10-acre swathe of Japanese knotweed under the proposed velodrome and aquatic centre. The plant spreads so aggressively that it could undermine stadium walls and crack concrete concourses unless every trace is removed. The full extent of the contamination of the site for the games, including unexploded bombs and toxic chemicals, is still being assessed.

The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has already identified mercury, lead and petro-chemicals in the soil, as well as asbestos in derelict buildings. There are also as many as 60 unexploded bombs dropped by the German Luftwaffe during the second world war."

We still haven't been told why these problems were not identified before the project was undertaken- after all, locals knew about them. But we do know that the whole thing is already running four times over budget. And the clock is ticking ever more loudly.

PS I've just noticed there seems to be a difference between these projects: T5 is being built for a private sector customer that understands the value of money and time; Wembley was built for a quasi public-private partnership mumble, involving such notorious wastrels as Ken Livingstone, Bent Council, and the Dept of Culture Media and Sport (not to mention the appropriately named FA); and the Olympics is being built for a combination of... ohmygod... Ken, DCMS, and that hopeless woman. As we've noted many times before, it's little wonder that 90% of all public projects overrun.

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