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Public planning of mega-projects: overestimation of demand and underestimation of costs

Bent Flyvbjerg, Hugo Priemus, and Bert van Wee

In Hugo Priemus, Bent Flyvbjerg, and Bert van Wee, eds., Decision-Making on Mega-Projects: Cost-Benefit Analysis, Planning, and Innovation, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar, pp. 120-144

Despite the enormous sums of money being spent on transportation infrastructure, surprisingly little systematic knowledge exists about the costs, benefits and risks involved. The literature lacks statistically valid answers to the central and self-evident question of whether transportation infrastructure projects perform as forecasted.

When a project underperforms, this is often explained away as an isolated instance of unfortunate circumstance; it is typically not seen as the particular expression of a general pattern of underperformance in transportation infrastructure projects. Because knowledge is lacking in this area of research, until now it has been impossible to validly refute or confirm whether underperformance is the exception or the rule.

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Bent Flyvbjerg