While most of SLAC sleeps, a select group remains hard at work, driving ahead construction progress on the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). Since last spring, tunnel contractor Affholder Inc. has used double shifts to speed ahead tunneling progress, with the second shift on the clock from 4:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
The leaders of these two teams, Jose Franco and Jose Rios, each have decades of experience digging tunnels and have worked all over the United States. Each says that what stands out the most on Department of Energy projects is the emphasis on safety.
"It's nice because I feel like they take care of us," says Franco, a resident of Los Angeles who also helped dig Fermilab's Tevatron tunnel in 2000. "It's very safe... everybody takes precaution."
In all, about 15 miners and a handful of electricians and engineers make up the second-shift tunneling crews. When completed this spring, the tunneling portion of the LCLS construction will have lasted 20 months. Franco and Rios agree that the worst part of the job is time spent away from home. Rios, who usually lives in South Carolina, says California is beautiful, but expensive. However, both Franco and Rios concede they do save money on sunscreen.