What You Can Learn from the 5 Worst Engineering Projects of 2014

What You Can Learn from the 5 Worst Engineering Projects of 2014

There’s great engineering, and then there’s awful engineering.

While 2014 brought with it a host of amazing construction projects around the world, not every project turned out the way builders and engineers thought they would when they set out to create the blueprints.

Bad engineering and construction projects drain finances, take longer to complete than scheduled, and usually disgust property owners. Beyond that, they can result in hazardous working conditions where employees on the job and pedestrians can get injured or worse.

You certainly wouldn’t wish any project to be the worst one. But you can learn from others’ mistakes in order to ensure you and your crew don’t encounter a similar fate.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the worst construction projects of 2014, as compiled by the editors of ENR:

  1. Augusta, Georgia’s Plant Vogtle Nuclear Project

If you have a timetable and a budget, by all means do everything within your power to stick to both of them. The Plant Vogtle nuclear power project in Georgia was recently delayed another 18 months. Those delays might add more than $650 million to the project’s budget, though builders say when completed, the plant will save taxpayers over $2.3 billion over 60 years.

  1. Seattle’s State Route 99 Tunneling

Don’t make your project any more difficult than need be. For years, the state highway that gives motorists driving through Seattle a beautiful view of the Puget Sound has been in disrepair. Seattle and Washington state officials have agreed the highway needs to be replaced. Their solution?

Digging a tunnel, a job for which they had a state-of-the-art boring machine. Thing is, that machine got stuck after hitting a piece of metal left behind by a state worker during a project from the past. And that state-of-the-art machine doesn’t have a reverse gear. It’s a “flustercluck,” so to speak — and one worth reading about as documented here.

  1. Detroit, Michigan’s Wayne County Jail

If you’ve started a project with public money, by all means finish it — particularly when there are human beings involved in the process. Construction at a new facility at Wayne County Jail won’t be wrapped up anytime soon. And the monstrosity is costing taxpayers $17 million a year. Worse than that, inmates at the jail are forced to live in conditions so bad a judge ordered staff there to improve the facilities.

  1. Ecuador’s Coca Codo Sinclair Hydropower Plant Project

By all means, don’t cut any corners on your construction projects. Just look at the tragedy that happened at the Coca Codo Sinclair hydropower plant project in Ecuador. In December, 13 people were killed — and many more injured — after a pressure well collapsed. It’s imperative you learn from stories like this, taking measures to ensure the safety of your crew and those who may otherwise find themselves at the job site.

  1. Aurora, Colorado’s Veterans’ Hospital

The beleaguered VA has been mired in scandal over the last year as American servicemen have had a difficult time getting medical treatment due to an ostensibly mismanaged organization. The problems at the VA reveal themselves in the bungled Veterans’ Hospital construction project in Colorado — one that’s years behind schedule and hundreds of millions over budget.

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