The Emerald Group Publishing Editors have selected “How to Defeat an Urban Megaproject. Lessons from Mexico City Airport Controversy” (Research in Urban Sociology, 2013) as an Outstanding Author Contribution in the 2014 Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence.
The chapter, co-authored by TUT Project Director, Professor Diane Davis, and TUT Senior Researcher, Onesimo Flores Dewey, was chosen as a winner as "one of the most impressive pieces of work the team has seen throughout 2013". It will be freely available for one month, throughout the month of May through the link below.
Using the case of a failed airport project in metropolitan Mexico City, this chapter explores the political and economic reasons for urban megaproject failure. It examines the nature of the oppositional alliances; the larger political, economic, institutional, and spatial conditions under which these alliances were forged; and how they forced project proponents to abandon a planned megaproject. In searching for the factors responsible for project failure, the study employs theories of political party competition, bureaucratic–institutional conflict, and social movements. It uses qualitative and historical analysis to focus attention on divisions within and between the political class and citizens driven by democratization, decentralization, and globalization. The case suggests that the historical and institutional legacies of urban and national development in Latin America have created bureaucratic ambiguities and tensions over who is most responsible for major infrastructure development in countries experiencing democratic transition. The failure to successfully build the Mexico City airport megaproject reflects a precarious transitional moment in the country's political and economic development as much as the validity of claims against the project itself. If planners can better situate megaproject development in the context of changing institutional relations between citizens and the state, they may be better able to find common ground.
An aerial view of the Texcoco lake bed, which was slated for the new airport construction.
A map of the two proposed locations relative to the city.
The front page of the local newspaper on the day the project was cancelled.