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10 Cities That Bent Over Backward For Big Projects

Stocks in this article: COG RJF MGM MS S

Project: Port tunnel
Get used to seeing digging equipment on this list. It's a costly little enterprise.

The plan to build the Port of Miami Tunnel connecting the McCarthur Causeway on Watson Island to the Port of Miami on Dodge Island was kicking around for nearly 30 years before being approved in 2007. The goal is to get heavy container trucks off downtown streets and push them to the city's fringes. The economy had different ideas, though, and the economic downturn threw the project onto the scrapheap until 2009.

The good news was that the tunnel's original $3.1 billion cost was pared down to $1 billion, with the county, city and state kicking in funding. Private-sector banks and financiers will also be responsible for much of the payment and upkeep during a 30-year public-private partnership.

The bad news: This project won't be finished until at least 2014 and it's already springing financial leaks. The city had a tough time coming up with its $50 million portion of the funding. Meanwhile, overruns started to look more likely last year, when one of the tunnel builders sought to tap a $150 million reserve fund to cover the unforeseen cost of grout.

There's also the question of who's going to be using the tunnel. The short answer is trucks from the port and port workers, but critics say that traffic's pretty light and that the project amounts to a tunnel that "nobody" is going to use. The city, county and state went out on a limb with this project, and while there hasn't been a whole lot of cause for alarm yet, another project in this list already has Miami port tunnel watchers wary.

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