10 Construction Projects That Broke the Bank

The Chunnel
Automobiles drive inside the Channel Tunnel train car to be taken from Folkestone, England to Coquelles, France. © Carlos Dominguez/Corbis

The Chunnel, or the Channel Tunnel, is a trio of 31-mile (50-kilometer) long tunnels underneath the English Channel, connecting England and France. When finished in 1994 after six years of work, the Chunnel's $21 billion cost (80 percent more than projected) made it one of the most expensive construction projects in history [source: PBS]. The project was funded privately, through bank loans and selling shares to the public. The original shareholders lost most of their money due to cost overruns, which crippled the company, and in 2004 they voted to oust the Eurotunnel board in charge of running the Chunnel. By 2009, thanks to restructuring, shareholders received a dividend [source: Malay Mail].

The Chunnel has been largely successful, moving people and freight between the United Kingdom and France in just 35 minutes. More than 325 million people have used it since it opened [source: Malay Mail].

In early 2009, a new rail link connecting London to the British side of the Chunnel in Folkestone opened. It cost an additional $13.8 billion – the single biggest construction effort in Britain's history [source: Woodman].