With more than 1,000 new people being hired on an annual basis, and more to come, the need for a variety of new facilities and upgraded infrastructure at the Los Alamos National Laboratory is great.
LANL officials have recently disclosed plans, still in the talking stage, to build more housing at the complex, as well as new lab space and up to two new garages.
Those plans are in many ways animated by an announcement in the spring of 2018 by the federal Nuclear Security Administration, which is pushing for the production of 30 plutonium pits a year at LANL. Those pits comprise the core of a nuclear weapon.
After the plutonium pit agenda was released, Terry C. Wallace, LANL’s director, said that the government mandate “not only secures Los Alamos’ long-term security future, but our growing employment base and key weapons funding needs, which will translate in the immediate future to more infrastructure, more equipment, and more staff.”
Established in the middle of World War II for the design of nuclear weapons as part of the federal government’s Manhattan Project, LANL’s new building costs could come in at nearly $5 billion in the next 5 years.
According to reports, that figure could increase to around $13 billion between now and the year 2030.
The most imaginative infrastructure project could see the construction of a bridge that would provide a more convenient link between Los Alamos and the cities of Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
The bridge spanning the Rio Grande would, according to earlier studies done by LANL, have a height of more than 1,000 feet, making it the tallest such bridge in the country.
That bridge is seen as essential not only due to the large number of LANL employees who live in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, but also for facilitating economic development and other collaborative projects between LANL and those cities.
LANL officials say the mammoth bridge project would first require the participation and approval of both the Department of Energy, as well as the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
By Garry Boulard
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