In a (hopefully) ongoing series, I want to highlight Columbus city and metro projects that were proposed but never materialized in reality. Some of the ideas were awesome, while others were doomed from the start. In the first installment, I’m highlighting a project that was both awesome and doomed.
On August 9, 1985, the Columbus Dispatch ran an article about an “atom tunnel” to be located underneath parts of Delaware, Marion, Morrow and Union counties. This 60-100 mile long tunnel was to be one of the first of its kind, an early version of the Hadron Collider in Europe. The $3 billion dollar tunnel was to be buried 200 feet down and be about 10 feet in diameter. Ohio was not the only state vying for the project, but Ohio was considered to be near the top of the list. Ohio would’ve had to spend $66 million to get the site ready, anchored by a 5,000 acre project laboratory in Delaware County. The project, expected to bring 3,000 construction jobs and 6,000 permanent jobs, was expected to put the state at the forefront of scientific research.
This project largely failed for one reason: The Reagan Administration. Though the Department of Energy and the science community wanted this and other science advancements funded, it never went through, so the funding never became available. Instead, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) took the lead and built the now famous Large Hadron Collider, from 1998 to 2008. While Ohio’s “atom tunnel” would by now be far outdated, who knows what kind of research and technological advancement, even to this day, would’ve taken place under the Columbus metro’s northern counties.