Unbuilding the Grace and Pearman Bridges

For Sparky and myself, curiosity drives passion which in turn fuels our life's engine. Our passion was capturing the story of both unbuilding the Grace (1929 - 2007) and Pearman (1966 - 2007) Bridges and discovering the unbuilders. It takes a lot of passion to track a project from July 2005 until April 2007 - rain, shine, hurricanes or moving to Singapore. We discovered the joy of discovery learning. Ken Canty opened the front door for us - then Steve Testa, Ponch Billingsley and Mickey Rogers opened many side doors. Below are the highlights of what we discovered, who we met and what we learned.

And a reminder from T.S. Eliot (East Coker from the Four Quartets)

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

August 9, 2005: Unbuilding a bridge - one bite at a time - about 7am

There was just a moment of morning sun before the thundershower - but enough time to catch the first moments of work this morning. These huge bridge eaters (for lack of a better word) have rather large jaws and take small bites of the beams as shown here. The bridge floor is constructed of box girders as can be seen as long boxes.

It turns out that what I called a bridge eater are technically mobile shears manufactured by Stanley LaBounty in Two Harbors, MN. As a sneak preview, Stanley LaBounty has provided a 38,000 pound grapple to remove steel portions of the bridge from the river - which we shall see in action over the next couple of months.

Simultaneously the waterman on the right is flooding the bridge with water

And the work goes on - one bite at a time

Back around 5pm - what a difference 10 hours makes;

Taking a bite over Meeting Street

This used to be the beginning of the Pearman on ramp

Well, this is what was the Pearman approach

Straight out of Star Wars - the fight among mobile shearers

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C. Frank Starmer