The first automobile suburb was Long Island. Created by Robert Moses. Copied by all. Money was stolen from public transit and spent on roads, stolen from urbans to pay for suburbs.
In fact, cars did not scale. The road capacity did not, could not, ever, accommodate the demand. Physically, logically, economically impossible.
I read the Power Broker  about Robert Moses' obsession of disallowing public transit in the public lands that under his control. That results miserable comutting for New Yorkers nowadays. Bob mastered the political system in a way that he can do obviously irrational things under public eyes, and without any fallout at the time, until the book was published much later after Bob actually has died.
I haven't researched extensively in US public transit, but I am inclined to believe that the public transit were handicapped intentionally through the market operators, in collaboration of the political apparatus.
I could not see any obvious evidence of this particular event being positive or negative. But, I am more sure that the political system in US is crippled to the point that it's not capable of producing long-term positive policy any more.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
Find some major problems with the software development and complain about them strongly to upper management and offer a solution.
Learn to communicate with busy people. Use short emails. Lead with the most important point in verbal and written communication. Learn to tailor your communication to your audiance. Gain the trust and respect of everyone you can. People need to look at you and think, "this guy's/gal's got it." Some will like you and others will not. If you haven't been promoted after doing all this, then straight out ask to be a manager. If you don't get it, leave and do it over.
Also, read The Power Broker 
Is it though? I live in Boston, home of the notorious* Big Dig. While particularly egregious, it's far from the only large-scale civil engineering project that's gone off the rails. In fact, I'd argue that until fairly recently, many more public works projects shared the "surprise factor" of software projects. I'd recommend Caro's "The Power Broker" for a fascinating history of NY-area public works (among other things - great book all around), including how much of that process was about adapting the plan to new things the builders were learning along the way ("oh, turns out that soil is completely different than we planned...")
That's not to say that there aren't particular features that make software engineering its own special snowflake - as there are meaningful differences between how civil, structural, mechanical, etc. engineers operate. But spend some time in another engineering organization and you'll find it's different, but not as different as you think it is.
(And FWIW, even civil engineers sometimes follow "agile" concepts - a company I once worked for was contracted to design a highway, and even after the construction started, engineers were "embedded" with the builders to make on-the-fly adjustments based on the environmental factors they discovered throughout the process... I wish I could find their project write-up, but it was a while ago and the company has long since been gobbled up by a bigger company).
* As a (subjective) kicker, I'd add that the Big Dig, over-time and over-budget as it was, was ultimately quite worth it... much like many software projects!
about Robert Moses, another legendary NYC figure who fundamentally changed the shape of the city.
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