I grew up in Dawson Creek. Our claim to fame: "Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway starts here!"
The Alaska Highway as built in 1942 is nothing like a highway that most people would envision. It wasn't paved, for example. It was good enough for military vehicles with crews of soldiers who could make ad hoc repairs to the road as needed while they transited through, who had extensive survival skills, and could literally radio for assistance if needed.
It wasn't opened to the public until 1948 -- so perhaps 6 years, not 6 months, is a better estimate of its time.
It's also shrunk by almost 20% as it has been continually rebuilt to make it passable by passenger vehicles.
It's an accomplishment, no doubt, but I feel like omitting these significant caveats is meaningful.
Wikipedia, incidentally, seems to support the shorter timeline:
“The official start of construction took place on March 8, 1942, after hundreds of pieces of construction equipment were moved on priority trains by the Northern Alberta Railways to the northeastern part of British Columbia near Mile 0 at Dawson Creek. Construction accelerated through the spring as the winter weather faded away and crews were able to work from both the northern and southern ends; they were spurred on after reports of the Japanese invasion of Kiska Island and Attu Island in the Aleutians. During construction the road was nicknamed the "oil can highway" by the work crews due to the large number of discarded oil cans and fuel drums that marked the road's progress. On September 24, 1942, crews from both directions met at Mile 588 at what became named Contact Creek, at the British Columbia-Yukon border at the 60th parallel; the entire route was completed October 28, 1942, with the northern linkup at Mile 1202, Beaver Creek, and the highway was dedicated on November 20, 1942, at Soldier's Summit.”
It's a huge achievement - something like 10,000 soldiers were involved in its construction.
But I worry that when most people think highway they think of the interstate system - straight lines, gentle grades, paved, multiple lanes.
This is more akin to the army setting up camp and building accomodations for thousands - we wouldn't say they built 1000 houses, they put up tents. Still an impressive logistical feat, but... different.
IMO, extrapolations like this are not very useful unless it also means it can actually be executed at that cost in 2019.
Is that really the case here?
I traveled it before was paved, and it was, and is, a true engineering marvel.
While the costs are higher- so are the benefits
I realize San Francisco is a microcosm, but in my experience the focus has been on extracting money via corruption and building the bare minimum you can without getting sued.
You could argue the money is going towards greater safety for workers, but I see no plausible argument that it's resulting in higher quality work.
On a 8 hour work day on federal minimum wage that's only 52 workers being able to work on the entire project ignoring all machine and material costs.
Too right it couldn't be done today. Or there were a lot of costs accumulated by the project that were not assigned to the project.
Still the reported cost of the road at the tune excludes machinery and labour costs, it was purely material costs.
I rode it on a motorcycle in 2015. The days of a “I survived the AlCan” being a meaningful t-shirt are well behind us. It’s a little rough, mostly paved, but not what they built in 243 days.
(Note that I'm not saying that it should happen or that it would be a good thing necessarily.)
I think this example along with what I just randomly know about the other examples, gives the impression that this list is essentially meaningless.
I recall the "Marin Ships" being indeed constructed quickly but of very poor quality and in no way equivalent to constructing real navel ships quickly, just "we can put X amount of metal into the water and hope it doesn't sink too quickly".
And so forth, for significant number of these examples. Some of the examples, that I know nothing of, might be more "real" or more significant examples time-efficiency, but the list doesn't seem a credit to them. Lots of these are "yeah, we can put a stake in the ground quickly" and that's it.
My dad went to the European theater on a Liberty. He had the top bunk in the hold and spent the voyage looking at the truly awful welding that had been done in the shipyard. But they didn't have to last longer than a few years, so lots of corners were cut.
Those wide empty roads going 55 feels like 30mph.
It has taken 7 months to get to the front page.
That's like 1.5 Apollo 8s
Algolia hosts a HN search site
Sometimes, that's for good reasons. We don't have slave labor, we have environmental review, and we allow affected communities to protest and block approval. In the old days when the city fathers had a bright idea they'd just plow through the neighborhood of $LEAST_POWERFUL_ETHNIC_GROUP.
We might have overcorrected! But I also don't know what model there might exist for moving quickly with a multi-stakeholder process.
Time and time again, organizations prove that product design/project management by consensus leads to budget overruns and under delivery.
Quality at speed requires dictatorial like organisation with high risk to all. In every example given people died, more were maimed and even more had mental breakdowns. Seems like most people aren't willing to be a part of something like that today and there doesn't seem to be any popular cause that would motivate such projects.
People are still totally willing to be part of something like that; people are as haphazard and risky as they ever were. The government won't let them because it doesn't trust people to assess the risks properly (there is evidence that the government is right; people are very bad at assessing risk).
However improving safety probably isn't going to cause the speed reductions, safety and speed don't usually conflict. The fastest way is often also a very safe way because it involves less unnecessary exposure of people to hazards. The issue is the government deciding that work flat-out can't be done (eg, can't open a mine, can't build a highway, can't build a building, can't hire/fire someone, etc, etc). There is usually a good reason but at the end of the day building infrastructure is a break-eggs-make-omelette situation. We don't know how to build infrastructure at scale without collateral damage, as it were. If we first gain consensus that something is a good idea, infrastructure will not be built.
I think people were much more willing to risk their lives (and risk other people’s lives) in the past than they are today. We have elevated the role of the individual. Younger generations are all “me” generations. (I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s true for me as well.)
Case in point is the Western expectation of acceptable losses due to warfare. If we needed to pull off another D Day invasion, I don’t think we could. Generation Z is not signing up to die in tens of thousands and I don’t blame them. The casualty rates that were once seen as the normal cost of war and industry are totally unacceptable today.
Prior to Pearl Harbor, most Americans wanted no part in the war. After the attack and growing threat of Hilter, people saw the need to bet our enemies at all costs by taking crazy risks.
People change based on circumstances. While newer generations might be considered "soft" and all about "me" compared to previous ones, I'd say they'd likely rise to the occasion if needed.
It's also clear that there are times when virtually everyone in the US has agreed on the necessity of war, the 9/11 attacks being the latest case in point. Conversely, many wars that in retrospect might seem to have been widely supported were in fact quite controversial. The Civil War is a case in point. 
That is objectively not "many casualties". Which was also his point (which you apparently did not understand, somehow).
And I find your implication that as long as people volunteer it's fine if they die quite disturbing, although funnily enough a perfect example of the "me"-generation the poster you were replying to was talking about! Who cares what my country is doing as long as I'm not affected right!
Having a small fraction of US society bear the costs of prolonged wars is a terrible policy that brought unnecessary pain to 10s of thousands of American families and many more in countries like Iraq. It also allowed American involvement in those wars to continue unchecked. If we want them to stop the simplest solution is to bring back the draft.
p.s., I was in the volunteer military (USAF).
The government doesn't let people partake in hazardous work? Which government is that? For example, the U.S. government will not stop you from working in mines, electronics industry, construction, or in automotive production. Corners cut when it comes to safety to save on cost still happens everywhere.
It's also not always pleasant. A guy who went through special forces told me once: "I'm glad I did it, but I would never do it again."
Inspiration looks different to different people. If people don't have a shared vision, they aren't going to be able to collaborate on shared projects at the same level as people that do have a shared vision.
I guess some of the things that keep them going, deep inside are the same the keep people climbing every mountain there is and then free soloing:
They have to prove it to themselves (and maybe others) that it can be done.
> [T]he Sausalito site selected on 3 March... construction began on 28 March.... Construction start was delayed two weeks to allow the 42 families living on Pine Point, which was scheduled to be demolished to build the shipyard, to move.
I can't find any citations for deaths in many of these examples (Treasure Island, Disneyland, Pentagon). Where are you coming to this conclusion from?
There is no model for that.
The OP's list of "fast" was more of a compilation of cherry-picked projects that, with the right context and in the right hands, achieved an impressive outcome.
Moreover, each of them AFAIK had long prerequisites to get to the point where they could reach their endpoints. The path to great things invariably includes many failures, false starts, and uncertainty.
The author, perhaps, has watched too many films with breezy montages that end with triumph. It doesn't happen that way, except in the wet dreams of project managers.
In fairness, the author co-founded Stripe when he was 21. So, perhaps it's fair that his views are colored by the fact that at a very young age he built the highest valued company in the history of the world's most successful startup incubator, but saying "it doesn't happen that way, except in the wet dreams of project managers" is, well, I'll just say a bit funny given who the author is.
The associated deadlines, proven over millennia to never be realistic.
Regardless, this is the mainstream, and this is how institutional projects are built and at institutional speed, i.e. sluggish. You know, like a snail without a shell.
Alternatively, for an equally long time now, in a certain way nature has favored those few individuals who have the instinctual need for non-sluggish, dare I say "fast" myself.
These are so hard to find that most time-sensitive projects simply start without them and substitute traditional deadlines and bureaucracy in order to measure long-term progress which would otherwise not be apparent.
When what is really needed is leadership from the top down building the team exclusively hand-picked for the very instinct which has always outperformed mainstream operation. But it takes one to know one.
When everybody on the job has always had the knack for outperforming anything deadlines have to offer, you don't have to remind them you needed everything "the day before yesterday".
No need for (lack of) progress reports either, when the goal is moving visibly closer continuously and it's turning out not to be a long-term project after all.
Outliers will be outliers.
How many billion dollar companies have you started?
This definitely happened in Chicago. In multiple cases, the city ran highways through ethnic neighborhoods, effective killing the local communities.
Since 1990 Japan has indeed only added $6tr of Money (M2), but as their GDP hasn't really grown that's an additionall 80% of GDP in terms of Money (the same meausure for the US is up 15%)
China on the other hand, money is up 150% of GDP, which clocks in at $26 Trillion dollars (a bit more than 100% of US GDP).
America has ‘squandered’ the recovery and is falling behind the rest of the world, according to Harvard study
Look at China, they still build things very fast but they also don't care about work safety, neighborhoods, ethnicity and all that.
From the pyramids, to Notre Dame, Neuschwanstein Castle, Great Wall of China, Panama Canal, Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu, Cancun hotel zone, etc every single technologically unbelievable achievement was built by exploiting large masses of the population.
The reason we cannot build the same today is that the pool of people that can be exploited has been much reduced.
Perhaps that is a cause for celebration.
Starting with the construction of the Peter and Paul Fortress, Peter dragooned thousands of conscripts, convicts and prisoners of war to erect the city from scratch in a place where snow can fall as early as September and as late as May. Tree trunks had to be sunk into the swampy ground before it could support structures.
Living in ramshackle quarters and working with inadequate tools – often digging by hand and carrying the dirt in the front of their shirts – these involuntary labourers died in their thousands, carried off by disease or frequent flooding. As a result, St Petersburg became known as the “city built on bones”.
This was a late 19th century project.
The medieval castle originally on the site was likely built by clans that had been bred by the Romans for hundreds of years for this exact purpose.
Didn't expect to see that on the list. It looks to me like any other mega hotel beach area ... or am I missing something about it?
It was built super cheaply on the back of millions of Mayans - it is on the list because IMO is the most recent and perhaps last example of building "pyramids".
IMO, what distinguishes Cancun from the others on the list is the "cheapness" of it's aesthetics and likely it's actual quality.
The resort construction in Mexico wants to deliver a grandiose feeling to tourists - and it does do that perfectly. I am repeatedly amazed at the architectural variety and talent that went into shaping and designing each resort. There are very few that are similar to each other or a "traditional" hotel.
I will also say that many of the resorts in Riviera Maya are anything but cheap quality - heavy marble floors, thick noise absorbing walls, high ceilings. You can almost sense the Mayan pyramid building ancestry in each.
Bureaucracy involves some waste in overstaffing, but also saves on the chaos that results from our starved, politicized institutions with little internal execution/planning capability.
Agree with you. Things used to be faster because people in charge were careless.
Because machines exist, does not mean carelessness levels go one way or the other.
You're just adding an unrequested extra variable.
We could build it even faster with machine AND being careless.
Even if you have 1000 people you’re willing to sacrifice, if just one machine can do all their work then carelessness can’t be the main reason we’re so slow now.
And we've gone full circle.
They were considered expendable because they were Catholic (unlike the Scotch Irish who were protestant). They were also lied to and told that New Orleans was close to the Irish communities in New England.
This is a perfect microcosm of San Francisco governance. A small number of highly-motivated landowners unashamedly hijacking city policy for their own interests. How do we stand up to this?
That's the root cause to fight!
I don't know, the charm of San Francisco is all of its unique elements that aren't found anywhere else. The hills, the cablecars, the Golden Gate Bridge. Why shouldn't the transit dept be responsible enough to "leave no trace" after it completes a project? What if the transit project tore up Fisherman's Wharf and they decided to replace it with a generic shopping mall? Or took out all the cable car tracks? What if they flattened Lombard Street to make it more "pedestrian friendly"?
They didn’t (solely) pay for the $6.5MM light poles, so they shouldn’t (solely) get the real estate value upside from having them there. Look up the Land Value Tax and start pushing for it.
I appreciate that whether it’s directly in my backyard or across town.
Don’t just downvote. What’re your alternate plans?
Early on in the Apollo program there was the plan to build a series of spacecrafts which would progressively solve intermediate problems on the path to the Moon landing. For that, a series of Apollo spacecrafts were planned, and production was running for years - Apollos flew also to Skylab and to 1975 docking with Soyuz.
Specific Apollo 8 was chosen to fly to the Moon because LEM wasn't ready - it was later tested on Earth orbit with Apollo 9 and flew to the Moon with Apollo 10 first time. So, Apollo 8 flying to the Moon isn't a separate decision, but change of existing plans - with a couple of missions swapped in time; fast, but not nearly as fast as creation from scratch of a spaceship or a program would assume.
I don't believe that's quite how things are done these days. Wildly successful things, mind you.
"It's the year in which the thirty-five-year-old playwright went from being an exceptionally talented writer, to one of the greatest who ever lived.”
Doing things really fast is more often than not the result of external circumstances. Maybe some new tech has just been made available, maybe it was a life-or-death situation, where dying at work is considered acceptable (ex: at war), maybe it had an unreasonable budget, maybe the "fast" project was just the tip of the iceberg, made visible by decades unnoticed of ground work, or maybe it massively prioritized speed over quality.
These situations are unlikely to relate to your projects, so yeah, things are going to be slow for you. Buy that's better than expecting some miracle, or considering human lives as disposable.
What would be more inspirational would be a list of slow projects, where people are trapped for years in development hell, with cost cutting, bad technical choices, mistakes and mismanagement. Projects where everyone involved say it is doomed and yet, at the end, something awesome came out.
If you are working on a building, what's the best thing to say? "That building took 1 year to make, you are at 2 and you didn't finish, you suck" or "That building almost crumbled, contractors defaulted, it took 10 years, but now, it is the pride of the city"? In the second example, you can see the mistakes and how they fixed them, the first one most likely involves a lot of luck and just sets unrealistic expectations.
>So I’d like to stress that while it really came together in just about ten days or so (at which point I did my first kernel commit using git), it wasn’t like it was some kind of mad dash of coding. The actual amount of that early code is actually fairly small, it all depended on getting the basic ideas right. And that I had been mulling over for a while before the whole project started. I’d seen the problems others had. I’d seen what I wanted to avoid doing.
Steel-framed structures go up fast. One floor every day or two is normal. Faster is possible. Here's a prefab skyscraper going up in 15 days.
"Proclaimed a “Local Hero,” Clinton “C.C.” Myers was lauded on the cover of the July 1995 issue of Comstock’s magazine for “working miracles in heavy construction.” Three big projects by C.C. Myers Inc. cemented his legacy: rebuilding two bridges in Watsonville after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake; reconstructing the Santa Monica Freeway after the 1994 Northridge earthquake; and rebuilding a stretch of Interstate 5, including a bridge, near Coalinga after the 1995 floods. He was equally famous for the efficiency of these projects — 55 days in Watsonville, 66 days in Santa Monica and 21 days in Coalinga — and the huge bonuses he earned for finishing projects early."
It would still be great to work at SpaceX, even if Elon is diet Howard Hughes.
Time is money, so if you can't put enough time, your only option is to compensate with money.
eg. the war on cancer, terror, etc etc..
Look at the defense allocations for basic research into hypersonic capable materials to prove that they are still years away the most basic deployment and once the research is done, there is no supply base to make the materials (FA8650-20-S-5003)
How many aircraft today can fly horizontally over 2,000 mph?
". . . maybe."
It may have been fast 50 years ago?
You could imagine getting pretty good at it, five years in.
A lot of these feats were the first _successful_ version, however the people behind them had careers of doing the same thing over and over again.
It's not like Brendan Eich went from not knowing how to write a language to shipping a language in 10 days however this article presents it like this.
It's not like Boeing went from nothing to 747 in whatever amount of time. Building an airplane get much easier when you already have a factory for building airplanes.
Like I can work on something for a decade and day before shipping, give it a new name and say "hey, I shipped it in a day".
It might take a chef an hour to make a meal. But he might have been optimizing that hour his whole life.
Once upon a time, there was an emperor who was extremely fond of roosters, and so one day he commissioned the most famous painter in all his realm to paint him a picture of a rooster. The painter replied that it would take him three years to accomplish this. The emperor was secretly rather annoyed, but in the end he agreed.
When the three years came to an end, the emperor summoned the painter, but on seeing that he was empty-handed impatiently demanded: "What about my painting of a rooster?" The painter remained perfectly calm, took up a piece of paper right where he stood, and started to paint. The brush flew across the page, the ink danced. With apparent ease, he produced the lifelike image of a rooster, capturing its very essence. It took him less than three minutes to complete. On seeing this, the emperor was furious and could stand it no longer: "Have you been deliberately deceiving your king? Is this some act of rebellion? It took you just three minutes to paint that picture; why did you make me wait three whole years?" To which the painter replied: "Sire, first please calm your fury; and when you have done so, follow me and see for yourself."
The painter led the emperor to a large house and opened the door, and on looking inside, the emperor realised that the house was filled to the roof with sketches of roosters. Then the painter spoke: "These are my efforts of the last three whole years. Without those three years of labour how could I possibly have produced that perfect rooster for you in less than three minutes?"
Why not add "Usain bolt took only 9.86 seconds to run a 100 m"
I think it's just the opposite – he's demonstrating how much rapid progress can be made when you cut the red tape and get the right people working at full capacity.
He then contrasts this with the municipal government of San Francisco, which operates under a different set of principles. Namely: maximize red tape, use unqualified people, and exert minimal effort, all while lighting money on fire because you have an enormous annual budget and no accountability.
But also, it's very unlikely that any of them would have taken 20 years and $310 million dollars to create a bus lane.
was having the same thought as i was going through the examples. and when the unix example came up, it dawn on me that the author is clearly omitting the background of these people to make a more compelling point.
yes they did great feats but most have a history of doing similar and learning from it in the past. fast-forward to present days, and our issues with not going fast enough, maybe the conditions and situations are different? maybe we are in a learning phase?
also for a better account of what happened in unix case, i recommend kernighan's latest: unix: a history and a memoir.
>Unix. Ken Thompson wrote the first version in three weeks.
11 extra days completely worth investing.
> The war was under way in Europe, so the Army's need was urgent and demanding. Bids were to be received by July 22, a span of just eleven days. Manufacturers were given 49 days to submit their first prototype and 75 days for completion of 70 test vehicles.
> Probst turned down Bantam initially, but agreed to work without pay after an Army request and began work on July 17, 1940.
> Probst laid out full design drawings for the Bantam prototype, known as the Bantam Reconnaissance Car, or BRC, in just two days, and worked up a cost estimate the next day. Bantam's bid was submitted, complete with blueprints, on July 22.
"In dozens of presentations over the past few years, scientists have compared the slope of Moore's law with the swiftly dropping costs of DNA sequencing. For a while they kept pace, but since about 2007, it has not even been close."
To go from a cost of 2.7billion and one decade to where we are today (people are now talking seriously about the zero dollar genome, aka the price of sequencing can be trivially offset by selling some meta information to some company or other) can be seen as a feat of scientific infrastructure-making that blows any Alaskan highway out of the swamps.
I would also be interested in a similar list, but one that listed "fast failures," like Vasa or Fidenae.
I sometimes think that we need cautionary examples, these days, as "move fast and break things" has broken a lot of things.
In 5.x years id Software built and released: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom 2, Quake, Quake 2.
2. This post is descriptive, but not explanatory (startup bro science)
3. Even taken at face value, it’s Confirmation Bias presenting outliers
Whether or not those things are a representative sample, or plausibly support the narrative in the wider context of human society, is left as an exercise to the reader.
I recall reading once that Thiel said that most or all of the critically important events in history were accomplished by small, highly motivated teams. (Pardon me if I am misremembering the quote exactly.)
Perhaps pc is simply reminding us that “move fast and break things” isn’t always a bad thing? Just speculating, though.
What's wrong with learning facts?
This is why folks listen to the “news” media yammer about a topic even after they know the facts.
And what they're doing for the upcoming 2020 Dubai Expo is equally mind blowing.
Before the downvotes come: I know it's an autocracy and the building labor practices are questionable. But many achievements on the list are subject to those caveats so it deserves mentioning.
But if you live in the city, you don't mention this. Instead, you loudly proclaim at every opportunity that San Francisco is best city in the world, and you express your pity for the poor schmucks who are forced to live anywhere else.
The crime, the drug addicts, the homelessness, the mental illness, the broken car windows, the absurd cost of living, the blighted neighborhoods, the pervasive human misery, the garbage, the heroin needles, the human feces -- this is to be considered part of San Francisco's urban charm. Anyone who acknowledges how bad the situation has become should be ostracized, downvoted, or told to move to Walnut Creek.
You especially shouldn't be critical if you run a tech startup in the city, since you need a continual supply of young, impressionable employees to buy into the hype and move here.
But once you move just outside the city perimeter, then you can afford to be a obliquely critical of the city's slow bus lane construction.
To the tune of Dancing in the Street by Van Halen
(In the background)
(taking a shit sounds... grunting farting)
Dropping out around the town
Are you ready for a big brown stain
Summer's here and the time is right
for shitting in the street
They're shitting on Gough Street (they'll be shitting)
At the MOMA (shitting in the street)
Up at Fort Point (shitting in the street)
All we need is fiber, (sweet sweet)
sweet fiber (sweet sweet fiber)
There'll be piles everywhere
There'll be ooooohing, ahhhing, farting, squatting
Shitting in the street
It doesn't matter when or where
As long as you shit there
Whether you're a guy or a girl. take a shit while you twirl
There'll be shitting
It's just an invitation for defecation
don't get it on your feet
There could runny or solid, but guaranteed to be squalid
Shitting in the street.
The San Francisco way!
I'm happy to be living somewhere I love now (HK). And if things ever change, I'll hope not to make the same mistake and stick around so long.
Notable, well-known things to be built on a shoestring budget.
I’d be curious to hear about projects spanning this gamut – something done fast n’ good but costing dearly; fast and cheap but horribly executed (I’d bet a large slice of projects fit in quite well here), or the amusing slow, expensive, and ultimately shitty. Perhaps most interesting would be story or two about projects which miraculously attained the trifecta... that is, if any of these stories actually happen to exist.
4500 years old. Construction 10-15 years, >10000 workers (some estimate 200,000). Accuracy of construction is fantastic.
I feel like it's more of a branding failure honestly. People would be much more understanding - if you heard "we're replacing 1800s utilities with 21st century tech built for the earthquake zone in SF and you get better transit along with that", I think the conversation would be much different than "it's taken a decade to build a new lane".
Written in the aftermath of Duke Nukem Forever finally being canned, twelve years after being announced.
(It did finally ship, to a poor reception)
It remains a work in progress today.
Personally I've been meaning to really do an exercise in evaluating projects against a regenerative framework (see https://capitalinstitute.org/8-principles-regenerative-econo... & http://fieldguide.capitalinstitute.org/whats-regenerative.ht... ). I'm not saying this framework is perfect nor am I endorsing Capital Inst, but there needs to be better evaluation than just speed.
>And one of the most fundamental errors made
in advanced developments is to stick to a design
even when it is very complicated,
and to not strive to delete parts and processes.
From The Everything Store, A book by Brad Stone -- what I got to know was that Amazon had the pieces in place that eventually helped create Prime service such as efficient warehouse operation that can deliver packages in 2 days, quick payment processing, rich customer data etc. So to think that suddenly Amazon Prime was invented and implemented in just 6 weeks seems wrong.
Let's take this Marinship as one small example of why almost everything on the page is probably not relevant today:
> Physical construction began on 28 March. Construction start was delayed two weeks to allow the 42 families living on Pine Point, which was scheduled to be demolished to build the shipyard, to move."
So 'delayed two weeks to allow 42 families to move'. Can you imagine what would happen now or even 20 years ago? It would be tied up in courts (including the court of public opinion) for years even decades. Lawsuits filed, legal challenges and so on. (see 'Blue Route' in Philadelphia) 
Germany will not have any excuses.
It's destroying so many good ideas or makes them so much more expensive.
Heralding quick launches should come with tribute to the sacrifices of early users.
(plus some of them are very coloured - the Alaska highway was a dirtroad, the Apollo definitely wasn't made in 143 days ...)
Sure, the impressive feats of engineering accompanied by a short time to build, sounds good. But how much money and time went into maintaining all the flawed decisions?
The stories of Xerox Alto's first GUI-oriented computer are usually accompanied by how Apple stole it and made it better. To me, this sounds like their speed did not help them ship a great product to the end-users.
Comparing a "highway" (later edited to the military roadway) from 1942 to construction project in one of the larger cities in the world is not fair. I agree the time it's taking, and the cost is absurd. But the cost of work has drastically changed since, and the 1942 number most likely doesn't account for the fact that it was built by soldiers who are already on the payroll, so there were probably little additional worker expenses. And the standards now are more strict than they used to be.
Wow, what the hell is wrong with the TGV in California? Are they still working on it? 33 years!
It now has 413 stations and is the largest subways system by length (676 km) in the world.
> Japan, an island empire totally dependent on maintaining open sea lanes to ensure her raw material imports, managed to build just sixty-three DDs (some twenty or so of which would have been classified by the Allies as DEs) and an unspecified (and by my unofficial count, relatively small) number of 'escort' vessels. In the same time span, the US put some eight hundred forty-seven antisubmarine capable craft in the water!
> The United States built more merchant shipping in the first four and a half months of 1943 than Japan put in the water in seven years.
> Again, the United States had to devote a lot of the merchant shipping it built to replace the losses inflicted by the German U-Boats. But it is no joke to say that we were literally building ships faster than anybody could sink them, and still have enough left over to carry mountains of material to the most God-forsaken, desolate stretches of the Pacific. Those Polynesian cargo cults didn't start for no reason, and it was American merchant vessels in their thousands which delivered the majority of this seemingly divinely profligate largesse to backwaters which had probably never seen so much as a can opener before.
Nowadays, it takes us the better part of a decade to get a minor bridge project done, and building a four-story apartment building is a multi-year endeavor.