In 2015, SpaceX was laying the groundwork for the most futuristic transportation plan on Earth: A hyperloop that would move people and cargo at roughly the speed of sound. But the first hurdle was figuring out how to build the hyperloop tunnel: A milelong vacuum chamber that required internal track tolerances within thousandths of an inch. And how to build that tunnel under an extremely tight schedule and budget.
Dozens of contractors were considered for the project, but Precision was quickly named co-general contractor after devising a simple, elegant way to build what others had deemed “impossible.”
The project is the second largest vacuum chamber in the world, after the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Hyperloop vehicles, or “pods,” move through the tunnel using evacuated tubes/pipelines and magnetically levitating over the track’s surface. Electric propulsion – which requires very little energy due to the reduced friction and air resistance – is used to accelerate the vehicles and maintain high speeds.
Among the numerous challenges to the engineering and construction staff were the specified tolerances, which were unique within the construction industry and required intense collaboration between Precision and the engineering team to create a design that was both functional and cost-effective to build. The track also passed over a railroad spur, which required a draw-bridge capable of accommodating a passing train before being reset to within those tight tolerances.
Precision collaborated with design professionals, owner representatives, and cost estimator for almost a year before the final design was ready for construction. The finished project was highly successful and delivered within the intended budget and schedule.