Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Project Timelines Series, Part II: Syria Border Wall

I wrote in June about how to fix the problems with long timelines and cost overruns (usually at the same time) which plague developed countries like the United States and Germany. Politicians in these countries tend to blame all sorts of factors on why they are unable to develop their countries in a reasonable time frame, but they don't put in reasonable safeguards to get projects done in a timely manner.

Today Deutsche Welle reported that Syria is building a border wall with Turkey, which is a distance of 822 km. This is longer than the drive from Hamburg to Munich, which is 777 km. They also expect they will finish building this wall next year.

There is no reason that GDP building projects like high-speed rail, airports, and light rail can't be done at a similar time frame. Germany and the United States were once willing to do these grand projects at a timeline similar to what Syria is currently embarking on, or what China did over the last decade with their new high speed rail system. The politics and economics of today are not fundamentally different from that of 50 years ago when grand infrastructure projects were the norm in modern countries. The building of highways around Europe is yet another modern example of this.

The issue is not the ability to do amazing things but the political will and the willingness to do what is needed. The US has a GDP per capita 5 times the size of Turkey. We are far richer, far larger, and have far more resources available. American and German politicians need to stop making excuses, hold contractors accountable, and do their jobs to revitalize and modernize our infrastructure now. Shame on the Seattle City Council, shame on Congress, shame on der Bundestag, shame on der Abgeordnetenhaus, and shame on der Landtag Brandenburg. It is time for people across the world to expect as much out of today's politicians as we got out of government 50 years ago, with massive infrastructure, human rights legislation, and compassion. We can do this, but only if we make it so.

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