7 Things That Cost Less Than The Big Dig

A Massachusetts state official announced Wednesday that the total cost of the Big Dig, also known as the Central artery/Tunnel Project, is estimated at $24.3 billion, making it the most expensive highway project in U.S. history. We did some of our own digging and made a list of seven things that cost less than the Big Dig. They may surprise you.

7. Hubble Space Telescope, 1990 – Final cost: $4.5-$6 billion



One of the largest space telescopes ever built, the Hubble was as important to astronomy as any telescope could be. After years of delays, the telescope finally went into orbit in April 1990, millions of dollars over budget.

6. The Large Hadron Collider, 2009 – Final cost: $6 billion



The LHC has been called the biggest and most expensive scientific experiment in human history. Still, the cost of the particle collider is only a fraction of the cost of the Big Dig.

5. All of Mark Zuckerberg’s Shares In Facebook, 2012 – Value: $13.7 billion



Mark Zuckerberg owns 443 million shares of Facebook. At the time of this article, Facebook’s stock price is valued at roughly $31, making his shares worth $13.7 billion – nearly $10 billion less than the cost of the Big Dig.

4. Airbus A380, 2007 – Final cost: $15 billion.



The airbus A380 is the largest passenger airline in the world, carrying up to 555 people and one heck of a price tag.

3. Eurotunnel’s Channel Tunnel, 1994 – Final cost: $21 billion



The Channel Tunnel (“Chunnel”) connects Britain to France and is considered one of the seven wonders of the modern world. But that came at at price. After going 80 percent over its predicted budget, the Chunnel ended up costing a whopping $21 billion.

2. The entire net worth of Michael Bloomberg, 2012 – Value: $22 billion



In other words, if the cost of the Big Dig were a person, it’d be the 17th wealthiest person in the world.

1. Sending the entire population of Flint, Michigan to the most expensive four-year college in the country, 2012 – Final cost: $24.2 billion



According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the most expensive college in the country is Sarah Lawrence College with a price of $59,170 including room and board. With Flint’s population of 102,434 that means the entire town can be sent to the four-year college with still a few million dollars left over.

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  • jeremy

    How embarrassing to the hacks that have run this state.

  • http://twitter.com/VM_Molotov V.M. Molotov

    Worth every penny. It’s transformed Boston for the better in so many ways. If only leadership anywhere in the country had the guts to invest in infrastructure today…

    • db

       yeah buddy but it killed one person so far and has cost the tax payers astronomically…building infrastructure is important, but crooked deals that cost citizens on many levels are not! 

      • http://twitter.com/VM_Molotov V.M. Molotov

        Building infrastructure is also expensive. Have you seen your taxes go down since construction finished? Did you notice when they went up? But I bet you’ve noticed how ridiculously easy it is to drive to Logan now.

        Crooked deals are definitely to be avoided, but how? Corruption is endemic at every level of government, throughout the country. I’d rather take the chance at getting a massive project built and losing money to graft than to never building anything at all.

        • The Albatross

          I don’t think that anybody is advocating to never build anything at all.  But rather, advocating that our highway infrastructure projects probably shouldn’t cost more than sending 12tons of human achievement into deep space.

          • don

            One thing I haven’t seen any comment on, the length of time the project will last and the number of people served. Eurotunnel’s price tag was from 1994 and seems to be the best comparison. A project that lasts for decades is and benefits huge numbers of both native Bostonians AND visitors is worth the investment.

        • almondette

          “Tax payers” was a typo; they meant “MBTA riders,” haha!

      • Eric Herot

        The Big Dig’s high price tag is frequently cited as evidence of its corruption problems, but the reality is that its contribution to the final price tag was negligible at best (at *most* it probably transformed a $21.5b project into a $22b project, probably much less).  Considering the scope and complexity of the project (completely transforming the highway and surface road layout of downtown Boston), its cost was well within normal boundaries.  And most of the so-called “cost overruns” that politicians love to complain about were actually the result of the inflation between the time when the first estimates were done in 1982 and when the project was finally completed in 2006, and the vast increase in the scope of the project from a simple extension of the Mass Pike to Logan airport to the complete transformation of the Central Artery.

        And I doubt you’d find many people who live or work in downtown Boston, or have to commute on i-93 through the city who would prefer to go back to the old way even if it meant a substantial tax cut.  The value of having a park instead of an elevated highway in the middle of our city and bisecting so many vibrant neighborhoods is almost impossible to measure.

        • deb

          ” I doubt you’d find many people who live or work in downtown Boston, or have to commute on i-93 through the city who would prefer to go back to the old way ”

          What about the people paying for this that have never been to Boston?
          I’m guessing they’re just suckers.

          • Eric Herot

            That’s the thing about public works spending: Making Boston a more desirable place to live and do business is a benefit to the economy not just of the state but of the entire region.

            And on a macro scale, if the United States shows a commitment to providing great cities for people to live and work in (and great infrastructure on which to do it), the entire country benefits.

            Infrastructure spending takes decades to pay off, but it almost always does, even in cases where the “need” may not have been totally obvious at the start.

    • mary

      lol…that’s funny!

    • X-Ray

      The Boston Globe reported today that the State had declared the work on the
      Rt 95 bridge rehab to be an all Union job because of concerns for schedule,
      cost and quality workmanship. Then they mention that the Big Dig was a Union
      job. LOL

      • Eric Herot

         Yeah, because clearly it was the union labor (and not incompetent management by Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff) that was responsible for the lapses in oversight and cost overruns.

    • Oliver Wendell Holmes

      Worth every penny?
      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!You must  be either one of the corrupt/incompetent officials responsible for financial oversight, or one of the crooked contractors responsible for the shoddy work on it!!!

      • Karl Audenaerde

        I’m none of the above.  But I’ve driven in/to/out of Boston (instead of around) before and after the Big Dig – even during it.  The only thing I can say is: I love it!!!!

  • http://twitter.com/TheReoWorld Andrew Reovan

    Are these normalized to the same dollars?

    • Nate

      Yep – adjusted for inflation.

  • X-Ray

    One wonders why after all these years since the Big Dig’s completion, the
    financial wizards still haven’t figured out how much it has cost. Is this a
    matter or incompetence, ignorance or a function of the government workers full
    employment plan?

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