ROAD CLOSURES: Giant electromagnet rolls into new home at Fermilab

A specially designed truck will drive 50-ft-wide load along public roads over three consecutive nights

Concrete News Fermilab, Illinois Tollway July 24, 2013
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A tugboat pushes the Muon g-2 barge on its way to Fermilab. Photo: Darin Clifton/Ceres Barge.

Scientists from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will move a 50-ft-wide circular electromagnet from Lemont to the laboratory site in Batavia this week, necessitating rolling road closures overnight on two portions of the Illinois Tollway and several state and DuPage County roads.


The electromagnet (which is not magnetic until plugged in at Fermilab) arrived in Lemont on Saturday, July 20, and was moved from a barge to a specially designed truck, which will drive it along interstate routes and through suburban streets to Fermilab over three consecutive nights this week. The full route and frequent updates about the move are posted at Fermilab’s Big Move website here:


The ring will be transported at night, using rolling roadblocks to close off intersections. The route includes portions of the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355) and the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) along with parts of state routes 53, 56 and 59 and several local roads. The closures may affect those traveling during the overnight hours this week, and drivers are advised to leave early in order to arrive at their destinations on time.


Crews will be working ahead of the moving truck to remove signs and other obstacles in the roadway and will replace them as soon as the caravan moves through. Roads will be re-opened as soon as possible, and traffic disruption will be kept to a minimum.


The giant electromagnet began its 3,200-mile journey a month ago at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.


The magnet is the centerpiece of Fermilab’s new Muon g-2 experiment, which will study the properties of elusive subatomic particles called muons. The ring was built at Brookhaven National Laboratory in the 1990s for a similar experiment, one which found tantalizing hints of new physics beyond what scientists have observed. Fermilab will conduct a similar experiment with the most powerful beam of muons in the world, an experiment that could open up new realms of scientific discovery.


Moving the ring from New York to Illinois costs roughly 10 times less than building a new one. So the magnet—essentially three rings of aluminum with superconducting coils inside—has spent the past few weeks on a barge, heading down the east coast, around the tip of Florida, into the Gulf of Mexico and then up a series of rivers toward Lemont, Ill.


The 17-ton ring cannot be taken apart or twisted more than a few degrees without irreparably damaging the coils inside.


“It’s been a very long journey, and it took a lot of work from dozens of people,” said Chris Polly, the project’s manager at Fermilab. “Now that it’s almost here, the excitement is building. We’re eager to get the magnet here and start the experiment.”


Photo: Darin Clifton/Ceres Barge.

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