Whether you want to build a bridge, a dam or a superhighway, creating infrastructure can be a complicated and expensive undertaking. We’ve put together a list of some of the priciest projects planned or under construction across the globe (ranked from the priciest). Just try and wrap your head around some of these numbers:

National Trunk Highway System


Location: Seven highways from Beijing, nine North to South vertical expressways and 18 East to West horizontal expressways
Country: China
Price Tag: $240 billion

Just how massive is the network of highways? The project was launched in 1990 and has paved roughly 85,000 kilmotres of Expressway, 68,000 km of Class-I highway and  320,000 km of Class-II highway. A total of about 108,000 km is targeted for 2015.

Photo: Wikicommons

Thames Hub

Thames Hub

Location: Isle of Grain
Country: United Kingdom
Price tag: For airport alone, an estimated $36.9 billion (£24 billion)

There’s no easy way to explain the British mega-project. Foster + Posters have put forward their vision for a new international airport located in the Thames Estuary on the Isle of Grain that would be connected to a new orbital rail link around London, which would connect to a future high-speed rail line from London to cities in the Midlands and North. It’s believed the new airport could fly out 110 million passengers a year should it open in 2029, as planned.

Photo: Foster + Partners

Second Avenue Subway

2nd Ave subway

Location: New York City
Country: USA
Price Tag: More than $17 billion (estimated)

The first major subway project in New York City in more than 50 years, the 8.5 mile (13.7 kilometre) subway will span the the length of Manhattan’s East Side, from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan. A new track will also connect the current 63rd Street and Broadway Lines, adding a second subway line to provide direct service from East Harlem and the Upper East Side to West Midtown via the Broadway express tracks. Altogether, there’ll be 16 new subway stations once all four phases are complete. Once the first phase wraps up in 2016, it should serve 200,000 riders.

Photo: MTAPhotos/Flickr

Diamer-Bhasha Dam

indus river

Location: Gilgit-Baltistan
Country: Pakistan
Price Tag: $14 billion

The foundation stone on the roller compacted concrete (RCC) dam was laid in 2011 though the project has been delayed a number of times and is currently facing financing issues. Once completed, it will create 4,500 megawatts of electricity, store 8,500,000 acre feet of water for Pakistan that would be used for irrigation and drinking and help control flood damage by the River Indus downstream. Standing at 892 feet (272 metres), the hydropower project would be the tallest RCC dam in the world.

Photo: Sandeep_8/Flickr

Gotthard Base Tunnel


Location: Swiss Alps
Country: Switzerland
Price Tag: $10.3 billion

Once the project wraps up in 2016, the 35.4 mile (or 57 kilometre) tunnel below the Alps with be the longest in the world. The Gotthard route is a high-speed rail link that’ll allow passenger trains to speed through the mountains up to 155 miles or 250 kilometres an hour (the route is straight with no tight curves). The project has some pretty impressive machinery, including a tunnel-boring machined manned by a 17-person crew. The machine can drill up to 131 feet or 40 metres per day (watch a video on it here). The subterranean rail system is meant to be a more environmentally friendly alternative to transporting goods via truck and also make it easier for Germans and Italians to pass through the country.

Photo: Artur Staszewski/Flickr

Site C Clean Energy Project

Peace River

Location: Near Fort St. John, British Columbia
Country: Canada
Price Tag: $7.9 billion

Recently named the priciest infrastructure project in all of Canada, the proposed 1,100-megawatt hydroelectric dam will be the third dam on the Peace River. BC Hydro expects the mega-project to be able to power about 450,000 homes per year in the province. Not without controversy, the project would  require the flooding of approximately 5,340 hectares of land. If approved (it’s currently in the environmental and regulatory review stage), the dam is expected to be completed by 2020.

Photo: tuchodi/Flickr

Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

Washington Metro

Location: Washington, DC
Country: USA
Price Tag: $6.2 billion estimated

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority  is adding 23-miles (or 37 kilometres) on of the existing Metrorail system, from East Falls Church to Washington Dulles International Airport west to Ashburn. Altogether, 11 new stations will be built, allowing flyers to take one trip from the airport straight into downtown Washington. Phase 1, currently under construction, includes a a 6 mile (9.7 kilometre) section of elevated track that’ll carry  trains above the Capital Beltway and over Tysons Corner at about 65 feet (20 metres). The entire route should be ready by 2018 and will be the biggest transit project since the Washington Metro first opened in 1976.

Photo: Teo/Flickr

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