10 Construction Projects That Broke the Bank

Montreal-Mirabel Airport
The costly Montreal-Mirabel airport in Quebec opened in 1975 and closed in 2004, due to lack of customers. In May 2014, Montreal’s airport chief announced it would be torn down. © CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters/Corbis

In 1969, when the Canadian government announced the construction of a massive new airport to service Montreal, then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau proclaimed it to be a "project for the 21st century." But it turned out to barely last into Y2K.

In order to clear space for the airport, the government seized 100,000 acres (41,000 hectares) of private land, more than the entire city of Montreal, and forced nearly 2,000 residents out of their homes. Acquiring that acreage cost nearly $140 million, nearly eight times the original projection. The price tag for construction alone ballooned to around $276 million.

When it finally opened in 1975, squabbling between the national and provincial governments scuttled construction of a multilane highway and rapid transit system that would have linked it with Montreal and Dorval, the city's existing airport. With Mirabel located 31 miles (50 kilometers) from Montreal and Dorval, air travelers found it too difficult and expensive to reach, and by 1988 the airport handled just 2.5 million passengers annually, a fraction of the 50 million annual patrons once envisioned. In 2004, Mirabel ceased airline operations completely [source: Edwards].

There was talk of turning the site into a water park, but that never materialized. In May 2014, Montreal's airport chief announced that Mirabel's vacant terminal, which was costing the government CA $30 million ($28 million) a year to maintain, would be demolished [source: CBC News].