pmpx_main_5megain2016If you really want to get a grip on the importance of stakeholder management, it’s good to think mega on your PMP exam. Megaprojects are undertakings with long, complex, and critical front ends. They are usually very expensive and quite public. Here, initiating and planning are key (remember mega project, mega mistakes!) Watch these megaprojects in 2016:

  1. Seattle Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel: Get some popcorn. This megaproject is a horror/comedy starring the tunnel boring machine affectionately named Bertha. Yes, tunnel boring machines have names and Twitter accounts too (see @BerthaDigsSR99).  Bertha was originally meant to dig a tunnel to replace the existing viaduct but overheated and was inoperable for two years. In late December 2015, Bertha went back to work but not for long. In January 2016, work was temporarily suspended after a sinkhole appeared at the site of the tunnel dig. The same day, a barge carrying excavated soil ran into a dock, tipping soil into the bay. In February 2016, the state senate ousted the transportation secretary. Until authorities can safely move soil to the barge or elsewhere, this project is on hold.
  2. California High Speed Rail: By 2022, California residents expect to enjoy a cool three-hour train ride from Los Angeles to San Francisco. That date is looking more and more unreasonable. The major hold up? California has not yet obtained all the parcels of land required to build the  520 miles of track. Despite some missteps, project leaders thoughtfully integrating $160M of contingency funds, though it seems you can’t account for everything. One resident in Acton, California, went so far as to install a fake graveyard with real gravestones in the direct path of the planned rail as a symbol of hope that it would never actually reach there.
  3. I-81 Viaduct Project, Syracuse NY: After over a year of stakeholder input, the Department of Transportation has narrowed down its options for improving the accident-heavy I-81 viaduct to just three: a community grid or street level alternative ($1B), a tunnel (price unknown), or replace the viaduct ($1.4B).  Currently entering environmental review, this project will continue to require public and agency participation to refine the project objectives.
  4. 11th Street Bridge Park, Washington DC: Construction is not expected to begin on this project until 2017, and at $45M, it doesn’t quite meet the $1B mark traditionally required to meet the definition of megaproject . Still it’s a project with big heart: the goal is to unify two economically disparate neighborhoods by making use of an abandoned bridge as a park. With funds coming from the city, private companies, and individual community members, this project will be an exercise in stakeholder engagement in 2016.
  5. Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation: The Hawai’i Free Press has dubbed the elevated rapid-transit line a “project failure in progress.” The Honolulu Rail Project’s runaway budget is nearly half that of the Boston Big Dig ($15B). The rail is expected to extend 20 miles in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion, but there’s no real consensus that public transportation would be utilized enough to make a difference.