Case Study: Calcutta's Metro
In 1996, Calcutta’s long-waited metro finally opened to a collective sigh of relief from the long-suffering population of this large Indian city. Critics had long derided the project a one of the “slowest-moving” public works projects ever conceived and implemented. The single route line, comprising 17 stations and slightly more tan 10 total miles of track, had taken 23 years from the date it was first approved at a final estimated cost of almost $5 billion. To put this figure into perspective, New York City’s subway system boasts 656 miles of mainline track and 468 stations, all for a city whose population is significantly less than Calcutta’s estimated 11 million residents. Calcutta’s Metro project represents a textbook example of the problems that can arise from poor planning.
The project was initially hampered by poor funding that slowed the development process. However, it was during project planning that a number of constraints became apparent that were to negatively impact on the project. For example, one factor that impeded progress was the decision to begin construction right in the middle of the city. Rather than start at one of the two terminal points, the project managers elected to begin digging in the city center, first tunneling down and then in both directions simultaneously, The problems with soil removal and heavy equipment transportation rose dramatically as a result. Among the other factors that the Metro project had to work around were:
1. Exclusive possession of the site was not possible. Normal life in the city had to go on as usual. While this is a normal by-product of most metropolitan construction, in a city the size and congestion of Calcutta, with an inadequate road system to begin with, there was a constant battle between maintaining normal traffic flows and creating enough buffers to allow for Metro construction. 2. Traffic could not be fully diverted from the roads. The road system was almost...
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