For the first time, the editors of ENR have compiled an informal list of the year's worst projects. By their nature, bad projects disappoint owners, incite hostility among team members, slip months and years past scheduled completions and drain finances. They also injure and kill workers.
Sadly, there are more candidates than a single page can accommodate, but the 2014 projects listed here definitely stand out.
In drawing attention to these projects, we hope others can learn some lessons and that all the hardworking participants on troubled sites are able to resolve the problems next year and go on to more productive endeavors.
Plant Vogtle, Augusta, Ga.
Remember nuclear power's anticipated renaissance? If the Fukushima disaster in Japan and a weak world economy have not yet killed off nuclear-power construction, this unpredictably overbudget project may complete the job. No one can say for sure if Vogtle's new reactors will start producing power by 2017 and 2018, the adjusted target dates.
Wayne County Jail, Detroit
It's one thing to stop a project halfway through construction when the costs to finish have risen like a holiday cake baking in the oven. But when Wayne County indicted two former county employees for failing to convey the true costs, the story went from sad to bizarre.
Veterans' Hospital, Aurora, Colo.
The Dept. of Veterans Affairs seemed to want to play hardball with its hospital contractor team on this over-budget project, so Kiewit-Turner said it wanted out because the VA had breached its agreement and flubbed processes through which, in theory, K-T had design input. A Dec. 9 federal dispute-board ruling in the contractor's favor won K-T the right to work on a cost-plus basis. In the end, Congress may dictate how the VA finishes this project and builds other big medical centers.
State Route 99 Tunneling, Seattle
The tunnel-boring machine cutting its way beneath downtown Seattle had barely started in April, when the Tutor Perini-Dragados joint venture explained that the repairs "Bertha" needed would put the TBM out of action for the rest of the year. Lately, buildings in the tunnel's vicinity were found to be settling too much. We hope this project avoids the kind of claims and counterclaims that have taken years to finalize on other jobs.
Coca Codo Sinclair project, Ecuador
The worst accident of the year may have been the sudden collapse in a pressure well at a hydroelectric project near Quito, Ecuador. Thirteen workers died on Dec. 14. The Chinese embassy asked the Chinese contractor to reflect on "this painful event," but this tragedy requires a thorough investigation.