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5 Challenges Faced by the Guy Who Closes Streets for Carmageddon, Endeavour, and CicLAvia

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Zev Yaroslavsky's website introduces us today to the man who has orchestrated some of LA's biggest recent events: the street closures for Carmageddon, CicLAvia, the giant boulder's trip to LACMA, the Oscars, Lakers parades, Obama visits, and now the space shuttle Endeavour's trip from LAX to the California Science Center (scheduled to begin October 12). Aram Sahakian is in charge of special traffic operations for the LA Department of Transportation and his job sounds pretty damn hard: "When you work for me, you better expect not to have much of a personal life," he says (he often sends 3 am emails). Here are some of the crazy challenges he's faced or is about to face:

-- "[O]nce Endeavour actually gets rolling on its low-slung, remote-controlled transport, nearly 50 traffic signals along the route will have to be rapidly taken down as the shuttle approaches and then immediately restored after it passes—all in a single day." And he has to be image conscious on top of that; he says "If we get a picture in the Los Angeles Times showing the shuttle stuck because of a signal standard, this would not be good."

-- Tests of the streets along the Endeavour route show vulnerabilities "where sewer and water lines are located"--meaning they can't handle the 78 tons of the space shuttle. As a fix, LADOT will place "at least 150 plates of thick steel" under the transport to distribute its weight in tough spots: "he expects the entire intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King boulevards to be covered with steel."

-- Still, he says "This is a cakewalk ... We can do this in our sleep. The big unknown is the crowd." Unlike the impromptu street party for the LACMA rock, "there'll be few places to stand, except at the end of streets that intersect the route or in designated viewing areas."

-- To handle Oscars limo traffic, "he has created a 'serpentine' of concrete K-rail, through which each limo must slowly (but not too slowly) pass in an orderly fashion." But he also wanted to know where the limos were coming from: "That's why his crew jotted down limo license plate numbers a few years back and studied their points of origin. Not surprisingly, most were arriving from the Westside."

-- Sahakian worked with CicLAvia organizers this year to move the date so it wouldn't coincide with the Endeavour trip. But: "Just to make it more interesting ? now I have Obama visiting on 10/7. Yes, Ciclavia :)."
· Street fighting man [Zev Yaroslavsky]