Whatever Happened to the CU ERL Project? (UPDATED)

14 07 2010

Renderings have been released through the Ithaca Journal’s website:

For reference, Riley-Robb Hall is in the upper level. This rendering is looking to the northeast. The cryogenic facility is to the upper right. More renderings can be found in the document attached to the main article.


About two years ago, I wrote an entry discussing the proposal of the Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) X-Ray machine and how it was sechduled to start operation in 2011. Well, things kinda stalled when the Great Recession reared its ugly head far above Cayuga. In between compiling at my work computer, I decided to look at the the town of Ithaca’s latest planning board agenda. Lo and behold, it appears the project is back on. From the agenda:

Consideration of a revised sketch plan for the proposed Cornell University Energy Recovery Linac (ERL) project located north of the Pine Tree Road and Dryden Road (NYS Route 366) intersection, Town of Ithaca Tax Parcel No.’s 63-1-8.2, 63-1-2.2, 63-1-12, 63-1-3.1 and 63-1-3.3, Low Density Residential Zone. The proposal involves construction of an underground accelerator tunnel (14-foot diameter and +/- 1 km long), a cryogenic facility, and an extension to the existing Wilson Laboratory (+/- 185,000 gross square feet of building space). The project will also involve new stormwater facilities, parking, outdoor lighting, and landscaping. The Planning Board may also discuss the draft scoping document for the Environmental Impact Statement.

Now, long story short, the project consists of a massive extension to the Wilson Synchrotron and a large addition to the Wilson Lab, illustrated in the diagram (which I am virtually certain sure was designed by Munier Salem, as it shares similarities to his previous works and it’s part of an article he wrote for the Daily Sun back in the fall of 2008):

The article also goes into much greater detail about how it’s supposed to work; much more detail than I am going to go into here. Economically speaking, the project has considerable potential for the region: the University and project affiliates estimate over 200 jobs would be created and the facility would bring nearly a billion dollars in economic contribution in the five years of construction and ten years of operation. It’s certainly much better than the alternative, which would be the Synchrotron unit shutting down and taking away 200 jobs.

So, it’s good to see things are moving forward once again. Let’s hope that things can stay on track from here on out.