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LACMA's rock caravan carefully winds its way through Long Beach

March 8, 2012 |  8:55 am

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s monolith is more than halfway into its epic journey. On its eighth night of traveling, the caravan, making its way through Long Beach, faced its most challenging trip yet
As LACMA's boulder made its way through Long Beach on Wednesday night, its caravan was at times between, well, a rock and a hard place.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's shrink-wrapped monolith is about three-quarters of the way into its journey from the remote Riverside County quarry from which it was blasted to the mid-Wilshire museum where it will be the centerpiece of the artwork "Levitated Mass."

On its eighth night of traveling, the caravan faced its most challenging trip yet. The route along Atlantic Avenue, Ocean Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway was the most densely populated stretch of the trip so far, said workers with Emmert International, the company handling the move.

PHOTOS: Giant rock rolling toward LACMA

Following a festive afternoon block party in the Bixby Knolls arts district, the $10-million caravan hit the road at exactly 10 p.m., but soon came to a standstill due to an overlooked utility pole on Atlantic that was in the way and needed to be removed.

More than 100 people -– truckers, museum workers, police escorts among them -- milled about in the icy night air, most wearing fluorescent vests, as the long line of trucks, their engines rumbling, waited and onlookers snapped pictures. After a delay or more than 40 minutes, the caravan set into motion.

Until it slowed down again.

On Atlantic Avenue near Spring Street, the 200-foot-long transporter carrying the rock found itself squeezing through its tightest spot yet. Because of a concrete island in the middle of the road, there was at best only two inches of space between the curb and the transporter's 176 wheels. At times, there was "zero clearance," said Emmert's Terry Emmert.

The difficult maneuver delayed the rock caravan about an hour and a half. "It was tight. We had very little room to wiggle," said logistical supervisor Rick Albrecht.

Overall, the transporter traversed six bridges along its route of just under 12 miles on Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. Along the way, it took out two palm trees, "but we’ll replace them," Emmert said.

MAP: Follow the route

At about 5 a.m., the rock was parked for the day about 2.5 miles shy of its intended destination. It will sit on Thursday in the middle of Avalon Boulevard at Pacific Street in Carson.

The rock is set to arrive in the wee hours of Saturday morning on the grounds of LACMA, where it will be installed as the focal point of artist Michael Heizer's sculpture.

Despite Wednesday night's challenges, Emmert's team maintained a sense of levity.

"There's something very gratifying about moving large objects from one place to another," he said. "And every trip is different."

RELATED:

Full coverage:  LACMA's rock

Interactive: Getting the rock ready to roll

LACMA rock keeps the party rolling in Long Beach's Bixby Knolls

-- Deborah Vankin
twitter.com/@debvankin

Photo: A workman checks on the LACMA rock in the 3600 block of Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach, where it paused on its journey from a Riverside quarry to the museum. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

The LA County Museum of Art’s massive, in-transit boulder is over halfway into its epic journey from the remote Riverside County quarry where it was blasted to the Mid-Wilshire Museum.

Wednesday night marked the 8th night of travel for the rock. Its trip through Long Beach – after a festive block party in the Bixby Knolls arts district that afternoon -- ended up well enough. But the route along Atlantic Avenue, Ocean Boulevard and PCH was the most densely populated stretch of the trip so far, said Emmert International, who’s handling the move; and there were a few points during the evening that had the monolith stuck between, well, a rock and a hard place.

The rock caravan hit the road at exactly 10pm, but soon came to a standstill due to an overlooked Edison utility pole on Atlantic that needed to be removed. Over 100 people – truckers, museum workers, police escorts among them -- milled about in the icy night air, most wearing glowing CHP vests, as the long line of truck engines rumbled and onlookers snapped pictures. After an over 40-minute delay, the caravan set into motion.

Until it slowed down again. On Atlantic Avenue between Shopping Center and Spring Street, the unwieldy, 200-foot-long transporter found itself squeezing through its tightest spot yet. Due to a concrete island in the middle of the road, there was only 2 inches of space between the curb and the transporter’s 176 wheels – at best. At times, there was “zero clearance,” said Emmert’s Terry Emmert. 

The difficult maneuver set the rock caravan back by about an hour and a half.  “It was tight. We had very little room to wiggle,” said Logistical Supervisor Rick Albrecht.

Overall, the transporter traversed six bridges over just under 12 miles Wednesday night; and along the way, it took out two palm trees. “But we’ll replace them,” said Terry Emmert.

The rock is set to arrive at the museum early Saturday morning, where it will be installed as the focal point of artist Michael Heizer’s landmark sculpture, “Levitated Mass.” It parked close to 5am Thursday morning, about 2.5 miles shy of its intended destination. It’s now sitting in the middle of Avalon Boulevard at Pacific Street in the City of Carson.

Despite Wednesday night’s challenges, Emmert’s team maintained a sense of levity.

“There's something very gratifying about moving large objects from one place to another," said Terry Emmert. “And every trip is different.”

--Deborah Vankin

 
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