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340-ton boulder makes first stop on its way from IE to LACMA

February 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A 340-ton granite boulder made its very first stop on Wednesday along its journey from Riverside to a new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Crews moving the nearly 22-foot-tall rock were very anxious about a hairpin turn at Granite Hill and Country Village Road that had to be made overnight by the truck hauling it, which has more than 200 wheels.

Project Manager Mark Albrecht said he and his crew spent months going over the plans for the sharp turn. They planned for the turn to take about one hour. It ended up taking them about an hour and eight minutes.

Albrecht works for Emmert International, which has moved everything from nuclear generators and even the Spruce Goose. However, Albrech says this particular project has been quite a challenge.

"Usually when you're moving something like this, you're not in a big city. You're usually outside delivering to some type of an industrial plant outside the city," said Albrecht. "So this is different that we're going right down through the middle of the heart of L.A. and back around to get this thing to LACMA."

The rock made it to its first scheduled destination at Mission Boulevard and Bellegrave Avenue in Glen Avon at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

The rock began its journey at Granite Hill and Pyrite Street in Riverside at around 11 p.m. on Tuesday. Officials say the complete trip is estimated to take about 11 days. A crowd of onlookers gathered to give the rock a grand sendoff.

"I think it's just absolutely amazing. The size of it is unbelievable. How they're going to move it and how long it's going to take, it's just a great thing to see them do," said Riverside resident Karen Rowley.

Adel Hana has been hired to guard the rock during the day. The Egyptian-born national isn't too impressed by the chunk of granite.

"It's a really big rock for here, but in Egypt, it's a small rock," said Hana.

Check out the boulder's entire route from Riverside to LACMA.

The 105-mile journey will end at LACMA's backyard where it will be the centerpiece of artist Michael Heizer's "Levitated Mass" exhibit. The rock will appear to float above the heads of visitors as they walk underneath it. The granite is expected to arrive at LACMA March 10. Museum officials hope to have the exhibit open by late spring or early summer.

The boulder was discovered in 2006 when it was blasted from the Jurupa Quarry in Riverside County. LACMA officials have been trying to acquire the permits necessary to move it ever since then. About $10 million in donations later, the boulder is now on its way to the museum.

The rock will be crossing four counties and 22 cities as it travels during the late night and early morning hours, mostly between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. California Highway Patrol officers and power company personnel are part of a large entourage guiding the rock. They will be disassembling traffic signals and power lines throughout the process and putting everything back up before morning commuters hit the streets.