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Endeavour: Crews finish up prep work for space shuttle's big move

October 11, 2012 |  8:34 am

All across South L.A. and Inglewood, signs of the space shuttle's big move are evident.

Light poles are coming down. Street closure signs are going up. Randy's Donuts is serving up shuttle-themed treats.

Crews this week put the finishing touches on months' worth of prep work needed to ready the roads for space shuttle Endeavour as it moves 12 miles from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center in Exposition Park. The two-day trip begins in the pre-dawn hours Friday.

FULL COVERAGE: Space shuttle endeavour

The route, which includes major thoroughfares including Manchester, Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, looks radically different than it did months ago. Power lines have been lifted and trees have been removed. Nearly 2,700 steel plates were laid down to better distribute Endeavour's weight and protect the century-old infrastructure underneath.

About a dozen private companies have been involved in the work. Ben Monaserri led the team from Time Warner Cable, which moved about 29 aerial crossings that at 22 feet above ground level would not have been high enough for the shuttle to clear. 

Monaserri's crew buried some of the lines and raised others up to six stories tall. They have been on the job since February and spent this week "just driving around to make sure there's no last-minute situations," he said.

INTERACTIVE: Endeavour comes to California.

Within a week of the shuttle's trip, workers will move the lines back. 

Monaserri said that although his crew was used to specialized projects, none compared to Endeavour.

"It's more than that," he said of describing the shuttle's move as a "once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Construction consultant Michael Volchok spent the week overseeing crews as they laid some of the final steel plates along Crenshaw Boulevard. The number of plates needed to protect city streets was so high, some were trucked in from Arizona and Nevada to meet the demand.

PANORAMA: Shuttle Endeavour in LAX United hangar

"The sheer number of the plates was surprising," Volchok said. "We've tapped out everything in Southern California."

Workers used forklifts to drop the plates in place and welded them down to secure them. As one crew broke for lunch at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, a worker turned and headed for a nearby pickup.

Embroidered on the back of his orange work vest was a space shuttle.

Planning on seeing the shuttle? Tweet your photos to @latimes with the hashtag #SpotTheShuttle or upload them here — and don't forget to tell us where you are.

ALSO:

Street closures for space shuttle's move detailed

Where to spot the space shuttle during its L.A. move

Hundreds of LAPD cadets to assist in Endeavour's final journey

— Kate Mather

Follow Kate Mather on Twitter or Google+.

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