Protests, politicians and setback: some of the most controversial construction projects of the year

For a wide variety of reasons, major construction initiatives have the potential to divide. Across the United States, projects such as the highly politicized $ 10 billion Foxconn factory in Wisconsin have encountered resistance from activists, politicians and local citizens.

Here are some of the more controversial projects that have made significant progress this year, and the backlash the work has encountered.

Texas border wall

Mario Tama via Getty Images

The project began as a campaign pledge from former President Donald Trump, who pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and “make Mexico pay for it.” Texas Governor Greg Abbott took it over when Trump stepped down, and some work was completed in 2020 along the state’s border with Mexico near the Rio Grande River, according to the Texas Tribune. Additional work on the border wall in 2021 in Starr County, Texas was inaugurated earlier this month by Governor Abbott.

On $ 250 million he put aside For the construction of the wall, the state also launched a crowdfunding campaign urging residents to donate to the effort. Since November 2, Texas has received over $ 54 million in private donations.

The backlash has been intense and far-reaching, coming from immigration advocates, conservationists, economists and others. The wall also saw opposition from landowners along the border, whose land was seized by eminent estate for construction.

Enbridge Line 3 pipeline

Courtesy of Enbridge

Enbridge’s US $ 2.9 billion portion of the Line 3 replacement project is the latest pipeline to experience a battery of protests. The project aims to update 364 miles of the line with wider pipelines over 13 miles in North Dakota, 14 miles in Wisconsin, and 337 miles in Minnesota. As of now, the North Dakota and Wisconsin expansions are complete.

First completed in the 1960s, the pipeline spans 1,097 miles from Canada to the United States and can transport up to 760,000 barrels of oil per day, according to Reuters. the the project was recently delayed due to objections related to environmental concerns, but construction resumed on October 1.

Stop line 3 and other organizations protested the project (as noted above), citing environmental degradation and treaty violations with native tribes, such as the Anishinaabe tribe of Minnesota, to whose lands the pipeline carries oil.

High Speed ​​Train Project in California

Authorization granted by the California High Speed ​​Rail Authority

The $ 100 billion California bullet train project, a 520 mile route from San Francisco to Los Angeles, was initiated by former President Barack Obama and was led by California Governor Gavin Newsom, who l called “the future of transportation in California”. in one video released in march. The project encountered challenges from the Trump administration, but recently gained momentum when the Biden administration grossed nearly a billion dollars the former president had held back.

However, budget overruns and infighting within the state legislature once again left the project in limbo. In September, the California legislature refused to release $ 4.2 billion for the effort, and the reports of the clashing State Democrats on if it has to be at high speed also cast a pall over the project.

Houston I-45 Freeway Project

Haugland Bowen, Katie. (2014). “Houston Skyline” [Photograph]. Recovered from Flickr.

A $ 9 billion freeway widening project near Houston has become a flashpoint for tackling racism in infrastructure design, an important part of the agenda of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Biden administration at large.

The 10-year effort to widen 24 miles of Interstate 45 has been underway for nearly 20 years, according to Associated Press. The program has seen a major setback from residents and community members, who say the widened highway will not solve transit problems and instead cause environmental problems while subjecting mainly black and Latino residents to increased pollution, displacement and flooding.

A trial last March sought to stop the expansion, but the project continues on December 1.

nashville football stadium

Courtesy of MLS

When Nashville was given an expansion slot for Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2017, it marked the start of a new era for the sport. Fast forward to the present day: The stadium has been mired in a bitter controversy resulting from disagreements between MLS and Mayor John Cooper, who verbally opposed the original agreement due to cost issues and a lack of a site selection process.

Critics who wanted to preserve the Nashville Fairgrounds continued unsuccessfully in 2017 to prevent construction from taking place. Cooper and MLS also negotiated a new deal, and the parties reached a deal in 2020 for the Nashville Soccer Club to fund infrastructure around the stadium to $ 19 million, while the city would pay up to $ 35 million. for lease payments, according to an MLS press release.

While the construction should now be completed end of 2022, its construction was not a simple process. The project is being built by a JV Mortensen / Messer.

LaGuardia sky train

Authorization granted by Skanska USA

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, before stepping down, defended a new Airtrain to transport passengers to and from LaGuardia Airport and New York City. Cuomo resigned in August over a sexual harassment scandal, and now Governor Kathy Hochul has instructs the members of the Port Authority reconsider the project.

The $ 2.1 billion people carrier’s initial plans, which had received federal funding and approval, are being shelved following strong opposition from a host of Port Authority employees, who allege that Cuomo exerted undue influence to move the project forward. Politicians like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have also criticized the project.

On November 16, the Port Authority convened a group of experts made up of former transport officials and management, who are conducting a study on alternative modes of transport, according to a Port Authority press release. The expert group will examine modes such as ferry service, metro extensions and expanded bus service, among others. The report will be completed as soon as possible for public review, the statement said.

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