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Chapter 12 How to Defeat an Urban Megaproject: Lessons from Mexico City’s Airport Controversy

Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View

ISBN: 978-1-78190-593-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-594-4

Publication date: 16 May 2013


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.



Davis, D.E. and Flores Dewey, O. (2013), "Chapter 12 How to Defeat an Urban Megaproject: Lessons from Mexico City’s Airport Controversy", del Cerro Santamaría, G. (Ed.) Urban Megaprojects: A Worldwide View (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 287-315.



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