The most expensive construction projects in history

Leaders throughout history have constantly tried to find ways to leave their mark on humanity. However, leaving footprints often comes at a cost. It is impossible to know how many people it took to build the Great Pyramids of Giza or how many lives were lost to build the Great Wall of China.

Whether building dams, skyscrapers, shopping malls or tunnels, it is not very easy to understand what these masterpieces of construction actually entail in terms of resources. It is time to take a look at some of the most expensive construction projects in modern history, some that have yet to be completed and one that has stood the test of time for a millennium.

1. The Channel Tunnel

Location: France and the UK

Total cost: $16.9 billion

Year of completion: 1994

French mining engineer Albert Mathieu-Favier first proposed the idea of building a tunnel under the English Channel in 1802. 192 years and almost $6.9 billion later ($16.9 billion in today’s money), the Channel Tunnel opened its doors to the public. Funded by the British and French governments, Eurotunnel was the lucky winner of the construction contract.

The Channel Tunnel @Documentary Films /

Recognised as one of the “seven wonders of the modern world”, the tunnel is 50 km long. It has the distinction of being the longest underwater tunnel in the world, with 23.5 of those miles under the sea. Today, more than 25% of the goods traded between the UK and mainland Europe pass through the tunnel. That equates to more than $170 billion in goods being shipped across the Channel annually.

2. Three Gorges Dam

Location: China

Total cost: $37.2 billion*.

Completion year: 2006

When completed in 2006, three years after its opening, the Three Gorges Dam became the largest fully operational hydroelectric dam in the world, and by 2018, it was generating twenty times more power than the Hoover Dam. Included in the cost of the project was the price paid to flood the reservoir that filled the dam. With such a large amount of water displaced, the dam has the ability to literally slow the rotation of the earth.

Three Gorges Dam ©PRILL /

The space is so large that it used to house 13 cities, 140 towns, thousands of villages and 1.3 million people, now relocated and compensated. By 2013, the Three Gorges dam had already recouped the estimated $37.2 billion it cost to realise the idea.

3. Itaipu Dam

Location: Brazil and Paraguay

Total cost: $19.6 billion*.

Completion year: 1984

Almost eighteen years after its conception, and after $19 billion, the Itaipu Dam opened and earned recognition as the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. That was a distinction it held until 2006, when, thanks to the Three Gorges Dam in China, it had to relinquish it. Financed by the governments of Brazil and Paraguay, more than fifty million tons of earth and rock had to be moved to complete the 490-foot-wide, 1.3-mile-long channel that would be used to divert the water.


Itaipu Dam ©Maila Facchini /

Located along the border between Paraguay and Brazil and nearly as tall as a sixty-five-storey building, the dam supplies Paraguay with more than three-quarters of all its energy needs. In 1994, the Itaipu Dam was ranked by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

4. Great Man-Made River

Location: Libya

Total cost: $36 billion +*.

Year of completion : not yet completed

What began as an “impossible dream” by the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in the 1980s has now become the world’s largest irrigation system. With two of its five phases completed, each with more than 1700 miles of pipe networks, the Great Man-Made River transports more than 6.5 million cubic metres of fresh water daily from the desert to Libya’s coastal cities.

Great Man-Made River @_kazumasa_ /

The completion date of this huge project has not yet been established. During the Syrian civil war in 2011, airstrikes damaged one of the two pipeline production plants used to build the system, causing major construction delays. The estimated cost of the final project is somewhere in excess of $36 billion.

5. Apple Park

Location: USA.

Total cost: $5 billion

Completion year: 2017

The late Steve Jobs was a man of extraordinary vision. It wasn’t the typical office space he saw when he envisioned the future of the Apple campus. From the type of trees on the campus to the timber used for construction, Jobs had it all planned out before he passed away.

Apple Park ©Droneandy /

The land on which the campus was built, located at 1 Apple Park Way, cost approximately $160 million and is the size of forty regulation football fields (eighty percent of which is green property: trees, parks, etc.). One of Jobs’ greatest hopes for the complex was realised when it was announced that Apple Park would run on 100% renewable energy.

6. Kansai International Airport

Location: Japan

Total cost: $24 billion

Year completed: 1994

One of the most ambitious structures of the modern era, construction of an artificial island in Osaka Bay for Japan’s Kansai International Airport began in 1987. One million sand drains were used to solidify the clay in the bay. Orix and Vinci SA, as the sole bidder for the airport construction contract, built an island airport 4 kilometres long and 4 kilometres wide that is now frequented by more than 25 million passengers a year.

Kansai International Airport @CivilEngineeringDaily /

Mainly because of the slip joints that were part of its earthquake engineering, Kansai International Airport escaped unscathed from the disaster that was the 1995 Kobe earthquake, but it is not invincible. It was estimated that the airport would sink nineteen feet, but in reality, by 1999, the airport island had already sunk a staggering twenty-seven feet. Since then, almost twenty centimetres of pavement has been added to the runways and taxiways.

7. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Location: USA.

Total Cost: $3.9 billion

Year completed: 2010

In 2010, the $3.9 billion The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opened its doors for the first time. Completed by developer 3700 Associates, it has two towers, each 603 feet tall, and more than three thousand hotel rooms, a 3200-seat theatre, a casino and a convention centre, all within the complex.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas ©Kobby Dagan /

In 2008, Deutsche Bank bought the project from 3700 Associates for $1 billion, and in 2014, a year after being called “the best hotel in the world”, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was sold again to Blackstone Group for $1.73 billion. Over the years, “The Cosmo” has even made its mark on popular culture by hosting the fourth season of Top Chef Master, as well as being the setting for The Killers’ music video “Shot at the Night”.

8. Lotte World Tower

Location: South Korea

Total cost: $ 3.4 billion*.

Completion year: 2016

At 1823 feet tall, the 123-storey Lotte World Tower is the tallest building to be found on the Korean peninsula and is also the fifth tallest building in the world. After thirteen years of planning and another seven years of construction, the tower was finally ready to open.

Lotte World Tower ©catcher_3.3 /

US architecture firm Kohn Pedersen Fox was commissioned by The Lotte Group to design a structure that would rise above the clouds on a cloudy day while retaining its magnificence. The Lotte World Tower observatory opened in 2017 and can welcome around 50 million tourists a year.

9. One World Trade Center

Location: USA.

Total cost: $3.9 billion*.

Completion year: 2014

Thirteen years after the deadliest foreign attack on US soil in modern history, the new One World Trade Center was completed. Primarily owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the centre cost just under $4 billion and features a three-story observation deck, located at the 100th floor.

One World Trade Center ©haveseen /

The new mall can be found on the grounds next to Ground Zero Memorial and is now the tallest building in New York. The final vision for the project includes five buildings, including a National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

10. Big Dig

Location: USA.

Total Cost: $24.3 billion

Completion year: 2007

More than twenty years after planning began in 1982, the Central Artery/Tunnel (or Big Dig) Project in Boston finally became operational. To the relief of Bostonians, the project was completed in 2007. The new road system was designed to divert traffic from the most congested areas of the city through a series of roads, tunnels and bridges.

Big Dig @engenharia360 /

In 2001, because subcontractors failed to remove gravel and other debris before pouring concrete, the Turnpike Authority discovered thousands of leaks. A major leak occurred in the Interstate 93 north tunnel in the late summer of 2004, and the tunnel had to be closed for repairs. After $24.3 billion invested, countless incidents and twenty-six years of construction, the nightmare that was “The Big Dig” is finally over.

11. Marina Bay Sands

Location: Singapore

Total cost: $6.88 billion*.

Completion year: 2010

In 2006, Las Vegas Sands Corporation won the contract to build Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. It consists of three towers, which are connected by the 3900-seat Skypark, and cost just under $7 billion to build. Two years after its initial completion date, The Sands had its official grand opening in mid-February 2011.

Marina Bay Sands ©Vichy Deal /

Marina Bay Sands has something for everyone, including a casino, a skating rink, a shopping mall and a two-thousand-seat theatre, which has hosted shows such as The Lion King and Wicked. The “piece de resistance” of the complex, however, is the 478-foot-long infinity pool located on the roof.

12. The Grand Mosque of Mecca

Location: Saudi Arabia

Total cost: +$100 billion*.

Year of completion: Ongoing

With an astronomical value of $100 billion and counting, renovations to the Grand Mosque in Mecca have been ongoing, in one form or another, for more than two thousand years. The Grand Mosque’s indoor and outdoor prayer spaces cover ninety-nine acres and can accommodate up to four million worshippers at a time.

The Great Mosque of Mecca ©Mohamed Reedi /

The first major renovations to the Grand Mosque in Mecca took place in 692 when marble replaced the old wooden columns and extensions were added to the wings of the prayer hall. In 2015, King Salman launched five more mega-projects as part of the original 2008 expansion project of his predecessor, King Abdullah.

13. Wynn Palace

Location: China

Total cost: $4 billion

Completion year: 2016

The Wynn Palace Resort in Macau has two hotel towers housing more than 1,700 rooms, a casino and thirteen different restaurants. After more than two years of construction, and after many setbacks and delays, including late and delayed approval of workers’ permits, the ribbon was cut later than expected on the $4 billion resort and casino.

Wynn Palace ©By ben_p /

The three-month delay in opening the resort cost Leighton Holdings (now Cimic Group) $38 million, as it had to forfeit its bonus based on the deadline. Leighton Holdings may have missed out on its bonus, but many others did not, as Wynn Resorts shares hit a 52-week high after the opening of the Wynn Palace in Macau.

14. Palace of Parliament

Location: Romania

Total cost: $ 3.65*.

Year completed: 1997

In 1997, after requiring thirteen years and the contribution of approximately seven hundred architects to complete (as we know it), the Romanian Palace of Parliament cost $3.65 billion to build. It is larger in volume than the Great Pyramid of Giza and is the heaviest building in the world, weighing a monstrous 9.04 billion pounds.

Palace of the Parliament ©Balate Dorin /

To date, the palace has not yet been fully completed, as only four hundred of its eleven hundred rooms have been finished. However, it is fully equipped with a panic room. The deepest of its eight underground levels is a nuclear bunker with more than twenty kilometres of underground tunnels connecting it to the main state institutions.

15. Antillia

Location: India

Total cost: $2 billion

Year completed: 2010

With a 168-car garage, nine lifts and three helipads, Mukesh Ambani’s “Antilia” is twenty-seven stories tall, as tall as a sixty-storey building and sounds as mythical as its namesake. Initially started by Leighton Contractors of Australia in 2006, the construction of Antilia was completed by B. E. Billimoria & Company Ltd in 2010.

Antillia @2004martina /

Resident of ‘Billionaire’s Row’ in Mumbai, billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani and his family live in the second most valuable residential building in the world, after Buckingham Palace, and is the most expensive private residence in the world, worth more than $2 billion.

16. Palm Jumeriah

Location: UAE

Total cost: $12 billion

Year completed: 2006

Paid for by the considerable revenues Dubai receives from its oil production, Palm Jumeriah cost a modest $12 billion and took only six years to complete. A fleet of dredgers used a high-tech GPS system and worked around the clock to precisely move and spray the 120 million cubic metres of sand taken from the seabed to form the trunk and branches of Palm Jumeriah.

Palm Jumeriah @prolife_brian /

With around fifteen hundred mansions, on the beachfronts of the seventeen fronds, and six thousand flats, the total area of Palm Jumeriah is equivalent to the size of around six hundred football pitches. The amount of sand used to build Palm Jumeriah would be enough to build a two-metre wall three times the circumference of the earth.

17. Dubai Towers

Location: UAE

Total cost: unknown

Year of completion : unknown

The four-tower complex project that was to be the Dubai Towers was officially suspended due to the pandemic. Very little work has been completed since 2018. The tallest of the four towers, if ever completed, would have been the fourth tallest building in the world.

Dubai towers @dayanahedez /

Intended to be the centrepiece of “The Lagoons” (another postponed mega-project in Dubai, which would consist of seven islands), developer Sama Dubai’s Dubai Towers were intended to complete the already distinguished look of Dubai’s core. How much the project would cost is unknown, but perhaps one day the complex will be completed and these answers will be revealed to the public.

18. Singapore Changi Airport

Location: Singapore

Total cost: $ 1.7 billion*.

Year completed: 1981

At the time construction began in 1975, it is hard to believe that anyone imagined that Singapore’s Changi Airport would eventually set the standard for the optimal airport experience. Opened for passenger flights in 1981, and constantly expanding, Changi has been voted the world’s best airport for the eighth consecutive year.

Singapore Changi Airport ©N_Sakarin /

The airport currently has four active terminals (Terminal 5 is under construction), and three of these terminals connect to Changi’s most awarded attraction, the “Jewel Changi”. With over three hundred shopping and dining establishments inside, there is a rooftop swimming pool, as well as a butterfly and orchid garden within the confines of the structure, not to mention the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, The Rain Vortex, which is formed by recirculating rainwater that is fed through a 130-foot-high hole in the roof.

19. Hyperloop

Location: USA.

Total cost: $6-7.5 billion*.

Completion year: estimated for the early 2030s

Originally intended for completion in the mid-2020s, Elon Musk’s new timeline for Virgin Hyperloop completion is sometime in the early 2030s. Magnetic levitation will allow passenger capsules to float above the track while being propelled along the path by high-powered electromagnets at speeds of up to 760/mph.

Hyperloop ©Volodimir Zozulinskyi /

In 2012/2013, engineers from Tesla and SpaceX helped conceptualise the initial designs for the Hyperloop. Just eight years later, in November 2020, two people rode in a Hyperloop capsule travelling at 100 mph for the first time. The final project is expected to cost Musk upwards of $6-7.5 billion, but will be able to take passengers the 350 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just thirty-five minutes.

20. Taipei 101

Location: Taiwan

Total cost: $1.9

Year completed: 2003

At a height of 1667 feet, Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world from the time of its completion in 2004 until 2010. The brainchild of architects C.Y. Lee and C.P. Wang, construction of Taipei 101 began in 1999, two years after its conception. In 2002, the project was delayed for a week by the earthquake that struck Taipei. A crane fell from the 47th floor and five workers were killed, however, the earthquake did not cause structural damage to the building and work continued as planned.

Taipei 101 ©Jeffrey Liao /

After four long years of setbacks, the mall portion of the complex opened in November 2003, and the following year, on New Year’s Eve 2004, the rest of the tower was complete and open to the public. Five years and $1.9 billion after construction began, the occasion was celebrated with the first of many New Year’s fireworks displays.

21. Lakhta Centre

Location: Russia

Total cost: $1.77 billion*.

Completion year: 2019

Located on Russia’s shores of the Gulf of Finland, the 1516-foot-tall Lakhta Centre towers over St. Petersburg. More than three thousand workers were hired over the course of the six years it took to build this $1.77 billion behemoth. The centre’s 341-foot tower is even equipped with an anti-icing system to prevent those on the ground from having to worry about falling icicles.

Lakhta Center ©Nikita_Maru /

The Lakhta Center is the northernmost skyscraper in the world and is the second tallest building in Russia, behind the Ostankino Tower in Moscow. The name was actually taken from its Finnish neighbours and given a Russian twist; “Lahti” is actually the Finnish word for “bay”.

22. Toei Line Ōedo

Location: Japan

Total cost: $18.4 billion* Year of completion: 2000

Year of completion: 2000

The first plan for the Ōedo line was proposed in 1968. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government was responsible for the construction and completion of this huge $18.4 billion project. After twenty-three years, the first part of the underground system began operation. With two further extensions in the 1990s, the line was fully completed in 2000.

Toei Oedo Line @TokyoInPics /

With a speed of over 40 mph, the Toei Ōedo line in Tokyo carries one million passengers a day across a series of tracks covering more than twenty-five miles. The entire circuit takes only 81 minutes to complete, and no one needs to wait too long, as trains depart every two to three minutes.

23. ECB Headquarters

Location: Germany

Total cost: $ ~ 1.7 billion*.

Completion year: 2014

The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) may be in Frankfurt, Germany, but it is the central bank for the 340 million citizens residing in the nineteen countries of the European Union. It took four and a half years to build and was inaugurated almost six months after its completion.

Seat of the ECB ©Cineberg /

The total area of the ECB’s premises covers approximately two million square feet and cost around $850/square foot to build. A stipulation that was in place for the ECB’s premises to reside in Germany was that the German government was obliged to ensure that foreign agents or demonstrators did not compromise the building.

24. Tripla Shopping Centre

Location: Finland

Total cost: $1.34 billion

Completion year: 2019

The Tripla shopping centre has two hundred and fifty shops covering almost one million square feet. It has over two and a half thousand parking spaces (three hundred of which are electric car charging points) and had a strong focus on environmental impact during the planning phase.

Mall of Tripla ©Ilari Nackel /

The Tripla shopping centre is just one part of the Tripla Complex in Helsinki, for which the European Union provided some funding. However, YIT and Etera are actually the majority owners of the complex, contributing most of the $1.34 billion needed to complete it.

25. ITER

Location: France

Total cost: $26.91 billion*.

Completion year: estimated in 2025 (phase 1)

Seven of the thirty-seven members of its group (EU, China, India, Russia, South Korea and the US) are funding the estimated $26.91 billion it will end up costing. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is not expected to complete its first phase of construction before 2025, but it will be the world’s largest fusion reactor once completed.

ITER @M_Claessens /

The magnetic fields will contain the plasma in ITER by means of a double-walled steel vessel known as a “vacuum vessel”. The vacuum vessel being built for ITER will be sixteen times heavier and twice as large as any fusion vessel previously built.

26. Apollo space programme

Location: USA.

Total cost: $ 25.4 billion* Year of completion: 1972

Completion year: 1972

After eleven years, $25.4 billion and thirty-five missions, NASA’s Apollo Space Program flew its final mission in 1972, and to say it was a success would be an understatement. On 25 May 1961, President Kennedy let the American people know that he believed it was possible to land an American on the moon by the end of the decade. Eight years later, the crew of Apollo 11 made it happen. 20 July 1969 will forever be remembered as the day the human race first set foot on the moon.

Apollo Space Program @marziobrambilla /

The development and designs of the Saturn launch vehicles, the Apollo spacecraft and spacesuits, as well as mission operations, accounted for approximately eighty percent of the cost of the entire programme. Each spacesuit cost the programme a hundred thousand dollars and the spacecraft itself cost about $77 million in 1968. That equates to an astrological $288 billion USD today.

27. California High Speed Rail

Location: California, USA

Total cost: ~$100 billion*.

Completion year: mid-2030s

Construction of California’s high-speed rail may have begun in 2015, but the ball started rolling seven years earlier, when the state legislature passed Assembly Bill 3034 and Governor Schwarzenegger himself signed it into law in 2008. Funded by the California high-speed rail authority, engineering firm WSP USA won the contract and plans for the railway are underway.

California High-Speed Rail @guillermoalvarezcalderon /

The opening of the initial operating segment, which was to carry passengers along the Bay Area, was postponed due to construction delays. Phase 1 of the high-speed rail, scheduled for completion in the early to mid-2030s, will take travellers the three hundred and eighty miles from Union Station in Los Angeles to San Francisco in just two hours and forty minutes.

28. Kashagan Field

Location: Kazakhstan

Total cost: +$116 billion*.

Completion year: 2040s

Discovered in the northern Caspian Sea in 2000, the Kashagan field is widely regarded as one of the largest discoveries of the last thirty years, with over thirty-eight billion barrels of crude oil, thirteen billion of which are potentially recoverable. In 2013, President Xi of the People’s Republic of China paid five billion dollars for an 8.4 per cent stake in the fields. The deal should work out quite well for Xi, as the Kashagan oil fields are not expected to be depleted until sometime in the 2040s.

Kashagan Field ©V.Baturin /

The waters near Kashagan are less than five metres deep, making it a considerable effort to reach the reservoirs that lie more than five thousand metres below the surface, and because of the high percentage of hydrogen sulphide in the oil, workers are forced to carry emergency breathing apparatus in case of unforeseen events.

29. Forest City, Malaysia

Location: Johor, Malaysia

Total cost: $4 billion

Completion year: 2035

In 2006, a 20-year project was proposed in which an ecologically sensitive and environmentally friendly city would be built on the four artificial islands off Johor. Through a joint venture, Chinese real estate developer Country Garden (60% stake) and Johor People’s Infrastructure Group (40% stake) split the costs and undertook the massive project that was to be larger than two and a half thousand football fields when completed. While still in the development stage, the goal by the end of 2019 was to have around seven hundred thousand housing units sold in the city. The actual number fell far short of the target and was much closer to fifteen thousand units.

Forest City, Malaysia @indiaholiday007 /

In 2014 Malaysia began land reclamation in the area that was to be Forest City, but did so without a detailed environmental impact assessment, which was a legal requirement. According to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea between Malaysia and Singapore, Malaysia was required to inform Singapore in 2005. Because of their failure to do so, and the fact that part of the land on which Forest City was to be built was in an environmentally sensitive area, the planned size of the city was reduced to a quarter of the original size. After multiple delays, Forest City is now projected to be ready by the middle of the next decade at the latest.

30. International Space Station

Location: Earth orbit

Total cost: + $150 billion

Completion year: 2009

Past the “space race”, nations from around the world came together in 1998 to achieve one of the largest and most difficult endeavours in space architecture. At over three hundred feet long and weighing over nine hundred thousand pounds, it took over thirty missions and over $150 billion to complete the initial construction. It is five times larger than the US Skylab and four times larger than Mir, the Russian space station.

International Space Station ©Andrey Armyagov /

On 2 November 2000, a mixed crew of Russians and Americans became the first people to take up residence on the ISS, which took place over several months. The International Space Station has been occupied continuously for more than twenty years and has hosted 242 people from 19 different countries over the years. The ISS moves so fast in Earth’s orbit that it revolves around the Earth 15.54 times a day at a speed of 4.76 miles per second. Time will tell whether the International Space Station will continue its orbit into the next decade, as funding for the station only takes it to 2025 and may ultimately be de-orbited in 2030.

31. Hinkley Point C

Location: Somerset UK

Total cost: ~ $32 billion*.

Completion year: 2026

Currently under construction, the power plant at Hinkley Point C will be one of the largest nuclear facilities in the world. Funding for construction was provided by EDF, majority French state-owned. Subsequently, in 2015, Chinese state-owned CGN agreed in principle to make an investment of approximately one third of the project cost.

Hinkley Point C ©jgolby /

By 2020, the project had already generated 10,300 jobs and is ultimately expected to create at least another 15,000 before it is all done, and with a lifespan of sixty years, the power plant at Hinkley Point C can be expected to be creating jobs for years to come. Once completed, the facility will be the size of more than eight hundred football pitches. This project is expected to take at least another five years to complete.

32. AVE high-speed rail network

Location: Madrid, Spain

Total cost: $ 1.69 billion*.

Completion year: 1992

With the opening of the first passenger line in 1992, the state-owned Spanish High Speed Rail Network (AVE) has been progressively expanding its reach ever since. The AVE high-speed train network travels at speeds of up to 192 mph and helped more than twenty million people reach their destinations annually, in each of the four years to 2020. Figures for 2020 are expected to be much lower than normal due to travel restrictions.

AVE High-Speed Rail Network @pedrosala /

Spain’s high-speed rail network is already the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world after China, with ten more lines currently under construction. Several lines are expected to be operational in each of the next three years.

33. Dubailand

Location: Dubai, UAE

Total cost: $64.3

Year completed: Ongoing

The property where Dubailand is being built is 107 square miles and, when completed, will be twice the size of Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and will also be the largest collection of theme parks in the world. One of its big features was the 607-foot-tall Great Dubai Wheel, but in 2012 the plan for the giant wheel was scrapped. It was estimated that Dubai Holdings’ Tatweer had been paying more than $64 billion for the forty-five mega-projects and two hundred sub-projects that Dubailand was to include.

Dubailand ©PhotoLohi /

Twenty-two projects are currently underway, but seventeen of those originally listed as part of this huge undertaking have been cancelled for various reasons, including Universal Studios Dubailand.

34. US interstate highway system

Location: USA.

Total cost: $27.2 billion* Year completed: 1955

Year completed: 1955

Stretching 47,622 miles across the United States, the Interstate Highway System has ten different transcontinental routes ranging from 17.6 to 3085.3 miles. First launched in 1955, it was only supposed to take ten years to build. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed into law in June of that year by Dwight D. Eisenhower, with an original authorisation of $25 billion dollars allocated for the forty thousand plus miles.

American Interstate Highway System ©Roschetzky Photography /

The $114 billion spent over the thirty-five years it took to complete the original Interstate Highway System was more than the $25 billion expected to be spent. Future expansion plans include improving overland routes by widening the Interstate Highway to connect Tamaulipas, Mexico, with Ontario, Canada, and Sonora, Mexico, with Alberta, Canada.

35. Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Project

Location: Sea of Japan

Total cost: $3.6 billion*.

Completion year: 1998

The Honshu-Shikoku Bridge project is a series of three bridge and highway systems connecting the islands of Honshu and Shikoku to each other. The first of the three systems to be completed was the “Great Set Bridge”, which uses eighteen bridges between the three systems, including the world’s longest suspension bridge, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.

Honshu-Shikoku Bridge Project ©take_p /

Engineers equipped each tower of the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge with twenty tuned mass dampers that make the bridge swing in the opposite direction of the wind. What makes this suspension bridge even more impressive is the one hundred and eighty thousand tons of steel and more than two million workers it took to build it over ten years.
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