Sahakian oversees special traffic operations for the city’s Department of Transportation. This makes him the official responsible for planning and executing street closures for all the big traffic-snarling events in Los Angeles — from the Oscars and the LA Marathon to next month's move of the space shuttle Endeavour. "I have an extremely understanding wife,” Sahakian says in a feature on him by ZevWeb. The Endeavour move is a lot more complicated than just taking down trees, he says.
Sahakian says that once 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.
“There’s no room for error,” says Sahakian, a 23-year veteran of the department. “If we get a picture in the Los Angeles Times showing the shuttle stuck because of a signal standard, this would not be good.”
In recent days, another complication has surfaced: Sophisticated tests of the streets along the route through South Los Angeles and downtown have revealed vulnerabilities beneath the surface, where sewer and water lines are located. These 14 areas, Sahakian says, could become sink holes under Endeavour’s 78 tons. This would not be good, either.
To fix the problem, Sahakian says that at least 150 plates of thick steel will be placed under the transport’s wheels to distribute its weight along the worrisome stretches. “And I’m not talking about a couple spots here and there,” Sahakian says. Details of the effort are still being worked out, but he expects the entire intersection of Crenshaw and Martin Luther King boulevards to be covered with steel.
Before that Oct. 12-13 move, Sahakian has a big day on Oct. 7: Ciclavia and a visit to the city by President Obama.