A city that dreams big and is never satisfied

Many cities have bold, long-term infrastructure projects. Not many realise them. Singapore is an anomaly in this respect.

When I was studying in Boston years ago, I used to hear locals talk about the Big Dig. It was a mega infrastructure project to build underground tunnels to replace road-level and raised artery roads that had become congested. Planned since the 1980s, construction began in 1992 with an estimated cost of US$2.6 billion.

When I was there in 2001, construction was heavily under way but the running joke was that it was a Big Dig that would go on forever, because of multiple delays, and an uncertain end point. By the time it was completed around 2005, the cost had swelled to US$14.8 billion.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 25, 2019, with the headline 'A city that dreams big and is never satisfied'. Print Edition | Subscribe