The Endeavour's Final Journey: Follow That Space Shuttle!
Imagine driving to the California Science Center at 2 mph. Now imagine doing that in a space shuttle with a 78-foot wing span. If you've got that image in your head, try adding Friday traffic, and we have something much more worthy of Los Angeles traffic lore than a simple Carmageddon weekend. The space shuttle takes to LA's surface streets late Thursday night and - with scheduled visits to landmarks like Randy's Donuts - ambles along on its historic last journey for 48 hours. If you think President Obama's visits present traffic challenges, you ain't seen nothing yet.
In case you've been living under a rock (and, incidentally, even giant rocks travel LA's surface streets), NASA's space shuttle Endeavour - the one that took our breath away with its historic loops around our skies a few weeks ago - is about to settle into its permanent resting place at the California Science Center. And lucky us! Our kids get to visit it (starting October 30) and call that piece of space history their own forever more. The sacrifices we're asked to make in return for becoming Endeavour's permanent guardians include navigating street closures between LAX and Exposition Park for 48 hours and losing about 400 trees in its path (which are slated to be replaced with nearly 1,000).
Wishing for a plan to move the space shuttle that would not involve Friday traffic or tree removal is a moot point; the complex plan is already in motion. What we need to know now are the street closures. Because the wing span is so wide, many streets will be closed even to pedestrian traffic while the shuttle is on the move. On a brighter note, the route includes some stopping points where members of the public can come sneak a peek - most notably at The Forum, where a big celebration is planned, but there should also be opportunities to catch a shuttle glimpse in a Quizno's parking lot in Westchester, passing by the Inglewood City Hall, and at Debbie Allen's choreographed tribute at Crenshaw and MLK. (Inglewood has released some very specific details of the street and sidewalk closure times in its jurisdiction.)
All told, the journey should begin Friday at 2am at LAX and finish up with a triumphant ride down Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard late on Saturday. The arrival at Exposition Park is expected to be at around 9pm on Saturday. After that, the shuttle will move no more but will sit in its newly constructed Samuel Oschin Space Shuttle Endeavour Display Pavilion, as a lure to countless school children. Reservations will be required for the foreseeable future.
Photo credit: Futurenaut via flickr