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For the High Roller, the task at hand is to put the wheel in place

As an executive with Universal Studios, David Codiga led the design and development teams for several of the company’s Orlando theme park attractions, including Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and Spiderman 3D.

Overseeing the design, development and construction of the 550-foot High Roller Observation Wheel — the centerpiece of the $550 million Linq project — makes full use of all his experience.

“I built ‘Islands of Adventure,’ but I don’t think I’ve ever worked on something like this,” Codiga said Thursday.

The challenge is not just the actual construction of the world’s largest observation wheel, which will surpass the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. Once the wheel and its 28 passenger cabins are in place, the project must pass dozens of safety and technology inspections before the first riders can hop aboard.

Codiga, executive director for the Caesars Entertainment Corp.-owned Linq, said the High Roller should begin testing its systems by January with outside agencies, a process that could continue well through March. It will open in the first half of 2014.

“We have a whole program outlined,” said Codiga, who experienced many similar testing and safety inspections for theme park attractions.

For now, the task is to put the wheel in place.

Construction has advanced to the point that High Roller is visible far from The Linq, on the east side of the Strip between the Flamingo and The Quad.

As of Thursday, 23 of the wheel’s 28 rim sections were in place. The final five sections could be completed in the next few weeks. Afterward, temporary cables holding the attraction will be replaced with the permanent cables, struts and tension wires.

Codiga said he is starting to notice photos of High Roller construction popping up on social media, including some views of the observation wheel from around the Strip that he didn’t anticipate.

The passenger cabins – pods for as many as 40 passengers – will be hung from the wheel in mid-November.

Transporting the cabins from their assembly point in a Las Vegas warehouse to the Strip will be an event of its own. Codiga said the big cabins must be moved in the early morning hours because streets will have to be closed to other.

He likened the process to the movement last year of the Space Shuttle through the streets of Los Angeles.

“It might not be as complicated as the Space Shuttle, but it will still be a process that will draw a lot of attention,” Codiga said.

The Linq, which was designed as an eclectic urban streetscape suggested by New York City’s trendy Meatpacking District, is expected to fully open in February.

The Linq’s open-air promenade will have 300,000 square-feet of stylish retail offerings, trendy restaurants and hip entertainment venues, all anchored by the High Roller on its east end.

“People are always skeptical about a project until they see it being built,” Codiga said. “I think people can see we’re making progress.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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