According to this AP via Yahoo News story, $1 billion ghost town is planned for a 15-square mile area in Lea County, near Hobbs, New Mexico. The goal is to provide a safe location for research projects for next-generation applications.
Sam Cobb, Hobbs Mayor, said the research facility will look just like an empty city about the size of Rock Hill, South Carolina, but will literally be a city without residents.
The town will contain highways, houses and commercial buildings and facilities. Structures will be a combination of old and new, just like any other populated area. While nobody will live there, they could.
Homes will be fitted with all appliances, heating and air conditioning, and plumbing. This way, new technologies of all kinds can be tested in real-world conditions, without disturbing the everyday lives of citizens.
While some researchers are busy testing a new renewable energy technology against existing-technology power grids, other researchers can examine a new smart street-signal system designed to work with self-driving cars, also under test.
Simultaneously, other testers could be indoors collecting data on a new toilet technology design that flushes by the power of human thought. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention…
Environmental and health issues of certain tecnhologies could be examined without fear of harming the town’s citizens. The only thing that apparently won’t be done in the $1 Billion ghost town is destructive testing. At least not intentionally. They hope.
Ground-breaking is planned by the end of June of 2012, with an initial development cost of $400 million. It is believed that the project could create 350 permanent jobs and about 3,500 indirect jobs as part of design, development, construction, and maintenance operations.
The benefits could be even greater, based on the use of the scientific ghost town. Hobbs airport hopes to expand on its number of daily flights to/from Houston, and is working toward securing service to Albuquerque and Denver, and perhaps other cities.