This story in the NY Times is actually about a proposal to build a tunnel between Long Island and Westchester . It would be "the longest autos-only tunnel in the world and the first to be privately built in the United States." But somewhere buried in the story is this quote:
"Here are two other issues. The first is whether the civic technology for killing projects is so much more refined than the technology for building them that you can’t attempt a project like this anywhere near high-dollar neighborhoods in the Northeast."
The implication being that we sort of lack a civic will to build large projects, but that the NIMBY-like groups wield all the power to stop such projects.
Now if you think about, say the Atlantic Yards project, you will note that it does not conform to this paradigm.
It did not go through the standard bidding procedures, it does not have to conform to New York's Uniform Land Use Procedures, it was selected over an alternate plan (Extel) which would have been more in scale with the community, it would be "densest residential community in the country," and it proposes to use eminent domain to eliminate the few holdouts who stand in its way.
Yet it is proceeding nonetheless.
Would that the above "technology" could have been called upon when the Atlantic Yards mega-project went down its badly planned path and could've killed it.