Before You Can Say, “Let there be light,”  you first have to say, “Let there be concrete and steel.” At least that is the way the process works with some of the scientific research at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., where $150 million of stimulus funding is speeding up parts of a big new research laboratory.

Upton, N.Y.
Upton, N.Y.
Ring-shaped Lab in Upton, N.Y., used stimulus money to speed contractors held back by annual funding cycles, and parts, but not all, of the project have been moved up for earlier completion.
Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory
Ring-shaped Lab in Upton, N.Y., used stimulus money to speed contractors held back by annual funding cycles, and parts, but not all, of the project have been moved up for earlier completion.
Photo: Brookhaven National Laboratory

Upon the 2012 completion of the various segments of what is called the National Synchrotron Light Source II, the scientists will shoot very strong beams of X-ray, ultraviolet and infrared light at all kinds of materials, searching for breakthroughs in medicine and physics. The lab has not moved up the official start date for the experimental beam lines, but the stimulus-speeded parts of the project may help gain critical time for the delicate and complex scientific equipment to be installed and commissioned. The stimulus money also has ramped up the staff on-site to about 140, many of them craft-workers employed by subcontractors doing ground and foundation work.

National Synchrotron Light
Source II
Jobs Created Speeded site staffing
level to 140
ARRA Contract Amount $150 Million

The basic structure is a ring in plan and is being built in segments. Contractors have started steel erection and are busy placing the project’s 40,000 cu yd of concrete, which is going into foundations, slabs needed for mounting equipment and an above-grade tunnel running through the facility.

Two critical segments along the interior of the ring jumped ahead with the arrival of the stimulus money. One is the injection building, a structure containing a linear accelerator producing high-intensity light. With the stimulus money, the scheduled completion of that structure advanced six months to May 2011. Another structure is the radio-frequencing building. It should wrap up two months sooner, in March 2011.

Federally funded laboratories (Brookhaven is operated on behalf of the U.S. Dept. of Energy) depend on annual allocations from Congress, and before the stimulus funding, the construction schedule could not run ahead of the lab’s existing funding. The original project schedule had an uneven pace of concrete placement because of these restrictions.

When Marty Fallier, who is leading the project’s conventional construction for the lab, learned in March about the stimulus funding, it allowed him to loosen the reins on the project’s prime contractor, Torcon Inc., Red Bank, N.J., which had started work under its $172-million contract a month before. The changes for parts of the project were “a problem you are happy to have,” says Fallier.

Those changes mean Torcon can place concrete on a pace that is logical for the contractors and lab, says Richard Estrin, a Torcon senior vice president and project executive. Steel fabrication, also initially restricted, now is moving more rapidly and any needed steel will be available. “We told the fabricator to go ahead on the entire contract,” says Estrin.

Lab office buildings, for which contracts have not yet been awarded, also jumped ahead with the stimulus money and can be finished in April 2012, rather than in June 2013, says Fallier. As many as five of these roughly 38,000-sq-ft structures will be built along the ring’s outer edge. Design will start in fiscal 2009 rather than 2010. “The project fit well” with the goals of the stimulus, says Fallier. “We were ready to create local jobs.”

And maybe give the scientists more time to set up their bright lights.