Watch the demolition (unbuilding) of the Grace and Pearman Bridges (old Cooper River Bridges)

The Bridge Blog
A dialog about our new bridge and these web pages

Overview. Schools and universities are all about learning - and learning is mostlly brain training. Learning is expedited by repetition and forgetting is expedited by infrequent use of learned skills or information. Tracking the building of the Ravenel Bridge and now tracking the demolition of the Grace and Pearman Bridges bring many questions to me and help me better understand the role Google and the Internet play in just-in-time learning. I enjoy chasing my curiosity and want to identify ways to encourage younger learners to also enjoy curiosity chasing and learning.

Many young learners do not understand the importance of repetition. More important, while experienced learners understand the learning process they often do not realize the destructive effects of the forgetting process. Over the course of the bridge project, I have access to only a few experts. Rather than a liability, this has become an asset and pushed me to improve my search skills with Google. Soon, I realized that answers to questions encountered during my photo adventures were often only a Google-search away. Gene Stead, my first boss and I put these ideas together in a small essay: (see Restoring the Joy in Learning).

Google + Internet have become dependable extensions of my memory. Insights I gain from you and this project will find their way into the learning centers in our schools and universities.

Sat, 16 Jul 2005

July 16, 2005: The meaning of a signature bridge

Yesterday, Vince Streano, David Wertz and I revisited the top of the west tower. It was almost 1 year ago (July 21, 2004) that David and I visited the top of the west tower - at that time looking at a number of bridge engineering issues. Among them was the cabling process managed by Olivier Forget from Freyssinet - and the time was near the end of "le Tour de France". During an earlier visit to the top of the west tower, I noticed a concrete tablet on the floor (upper left) with the names of many of the construction workers. Dumb Frank did not record this photographically at the time. This time I was not going to repeat the same mistake twice. Not only did I take several photos of the tablet, but I found Philip Cotter's and Lewis Williamson's names on the tablet. Philip and Lewis are iron workers, a very special breed of man that suspended themselves while erecting edge and floor girders and placing the concrete floor panels. Philip's wife, Tina, exchanged a number of emails with me about Philip and his artistic and literary skill - naming the last main-span crane (east side) the "Last Dinosaur Standing" (see for the dinosaur story).

Here, permanently placed on the top of the west tower is a symbol of the worker's bride. Many signatures are absent - but the pride runs all the way from Bobby Clair through Wade, Peo, Marvin, David and Olivier all the way to me - as these folks opened doors that enabled me to bring to you much of the untold stories behind building our Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

And a final note about the Internet and learning. The Internet provided me a medium that enabled me to share with you what the bridge folks shared with me. Not only that, the Internet provided a communication medium that linked me with Bill Mankin at High Steel, with engineers at the Federal Highway Administration, Bridge Division, with Buckland and Taylor, T. Y. Lin, HDR, Freyssinet and Tidewater Skanska. Governor Sanford and Bob O'Brien even provided input. In the end, Bob has suggested that I explore transfering this web site to the Historical Society or the Library - a wonderful strategy for breathing new life into these pages.

So from me - smiles and a big thank you to all of you!
Frank Starmer, Medical University of South Carolina.

posted at: 13:02 | path: | permanent link to this entry

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frank.starmer at

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