Building the SSC: A Texas-Sized Challenge

by John Prendergast, Managing Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 8, Pg. 54-57

Document Type: Feature article


Assuming it survives politically, the $8.25 billion Superconducting Super Collider could bring major new discoveries in the world of physics. For civil engineers, the Texas megaproject offers a showcase for innovative underground design and construction techniques. The SSC will use 10,000 superconducting magnets to collide proton beams traveling at near the speed of light. By studying the resulting shower of subnuclear particles, scientists hope to better understand the basic principles of matter. About 70 mi of tunnels will be dug for the SSC, including the 54-mi main ring and 16 mi of injector and accelerator tunnels, plus 43 vertical shafts. Also included in the project are two mammoth experimental halls (involving use of thousands of tieback anchors for wall support), and a variety of associated surface facilities, from high-tech accelerators to new roads to allow the 2,000 people working at the lab to get around the 400 sq mi project area. The article describes the current status of the $1.2 billion conventional design and construction effort.

Subject Headings: Underground construction | Project management | Innovation | Construction methods | Magnetic fields | Beams | Particles | Shafts | Texas | United States

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