'Big Projects' arrives, with stories both timely and timeless

Posted by David Lassen
on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The cover of our latest special issue, 'Big Projects.'
Our latest special issue, “Big Projects: Tracks, Trestles & Tunnels,” will soon be on its way to those who’ve made advance purchases, and will be showing up at newsstands, hobby shops, and other sales locations on Dec. 1.  

As the issue's editor, I like to think Big Projects is a Big Deal. It’s a 92-page collection of some of our best infrastructure articles from the last decade, along with new articles addressing our enduring fascination with big things that move, and what it takes to keep them moving. There’s a certain timeless quality to some of these stories — Ken Fitzgerald’s look at BNSF’s effort to add a second track through New Mexico’s Abo Canyon, for example, is as good as it gets as a step-by-step look at what goes into a major capacity-improvement project. But there’s also  — there’s also quite a bit in here that is, as the old Hollywood advertising line used to put it, “torn from today’s headlines!”

For example, the election of Joe Biden as president is widely being reported to be good news for the Gateway Program. You’re probably aware this project, which some have called the nation’s most pressing infrastructure need, would add two new tunnels on the Northeast Corridor to connect New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station, then rehabilitate the existing tunnels built by the Pennsylvania Railroad. And you are likely aware that an apparent deal to fund the $20 billion project was reached during the Obama administration, then rejected during the Trump administration. But do you know what went into building those tunnels early in the 20th century? Or the complexities of building the new tunnels, which go a long way toward explaining that massive price tag? Dan Zukowski lays all of that out in one of the new articles exclusive to Big Projects. 

There’s plenty of other timely reading in here, too. Dan also looks at why it’s so difficult and expensive to get these projects done, and at the “other” major tunnel project on the Northeast Corridor, Baltimore’s B&P Tunnel. There are examinations of high speed projects in California and Texas — comparable in terms of the challenges they face, but significant in their differences as public and private projects, respectively.

We also look at major projects completed by CSX, Norfolk Southern, and BNSF, and look back on the opening of the world’s longest railroad tunnel, in Switzerland. And there’s a gallery of memorable bridge and tunnel photos. 

We hope you’ll take a look, and we think you’ll like it.

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