Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Build an undersea subway from New York to Rome

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've built a undersea subway beneath the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea from New York to Rome.

The 31.35 mile Channel Tunnel, built from Folkestone in England to Calais in France, cost 4.65 billion pounds in 1985 prices, or $18.8 billion in today's dollars. This comes to $600 million per mile. The distance from New York to Rome is 4280 miles. At the price of the Channel Tunnel, we could've built a railway underneath the Atlantic and the Mediterranean between these two cities for $2.57 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image from Kdoug at Daily Kos.

2 comments:

Robin said...

Neil, I see you wrote "at the price of the Channel Tunnel," but I think it would actually cost more than that. The English Channel hits bottom at just 75m. In the deep part of the Atlantic Ocean, it's 2700m down to the mountaintops, and down to 5500m for the trenches. So you can't just price it out by mile. If you built a subway from NYC to Rome for just $2.57 trillion, I'd say you should be in project management.

I do appreciate the multilateralist subtext of juxtaposing a $3 trillion expense on war in Iraq versus the same on a thoroughfare between our country and Italy.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Is that a significant difference? These things were done with tunnel boring machines. Sure, the downward drilling would be longer, but it's not a big difference in cost, given the distances involved. The sideways drilling is going to be at a different elevation, sure, but I don't see why that'd make a difference in cost.