When we talk about a white elephant, that can refer to an actual animal. But more often the term White Elephant refers to a something that costs more to maintain that it’s probably worth.
That’s the definition we’re using for this list … which contains 13 of the biggest construction projects that wasted massive amounts of time and money … Or if you prefer, 13 of the biggest white elephants in the world!
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#9 Ciudad Real Central Airport (Spain)
Located in Castile-La Mancha, this facility was nicknamed the Don Quixote Airport after the fictional character. To an extent, this failed project was a victim of bad timing. It was conceived in the 1990s, when Spain’s economy was more robust. Money for the first private international airport in the country was easier to come by. But by the time the airport opened in 2008, the Spanish economy had essentially halted. By the time it was shut down in 2012, the airport did not have one single flight. After the $1.2 billion dollar airport was put up for auction,it received a bid of less than $12,000 from a Chinese investment firm. That offer was rejected as too low. In 2016, a local consortium paid out $62 million dollars for Don Quixote Airport. Hopefully that included some windmills to tilt at.
#8 Russky Bridge (Russia)
Did you know the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge is located in Vladivostok, Russia? That’s as defined by the length of its main span. Extending some 3,622 feet between suspension towers, the bridge was originally constructed for the 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Conference. Then-President of Russia Vladimir Putin approved the project at a cost exceeding $1 billion dollars. It was seen as a way to connect Vladivostok with Russky Island, where the conference was being held. The problem was that after the conference was over, so was a lot of the bridge’s relevance. It was designed to handle 50,000 vehicles each day … but Russky Island only has 5,000 residents, which has led to a severe under usage.
#7 Sochi, Russia (SO-chee)
No sooner than the 2014 Winter Olympics were awarded to Sochi, than the small town on Russia’s Black Sea attracted hordes of contractors and construction workers. Between them, those workers would essentially create a whole new Sochi. Their efforts resulted in the construction of nearly 50 new hotels … along with 13 train stations either new or renovated, six medical centers, five new schools, and 200 miles of new roads (which included 55 new bridges and 22 new tunnels). The bill for all that building was an estimated $51 billion dollars, the highest cost ever for hosting an Olympics Games Contrast that price tag with the cost of the larger-scale Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, which cost around $13 billion. The spike in tourism didn’t last after the Winter Olympics ended … and the gleaming white sports palaces have essentially stayed empty and silent ever since. One centerpiece building, the Bolshoy Ice Palace cost $300 million dollars …. And requires a daily budget of more than $13,000 dollars to maintain it.