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 19, 2005: Unbuilding the Pearman bridge

This is what remains of the beginning of Coleman Blvd.

This is one of the big mysteries for me. Testa takes the reinforced concrete chunks and somehow extracts that rebar from the concrete. As I understand it, this is in preparation for recycling - the rebar goes to a steel mill while the concrete goes somewhere? Anyone with insights into the process of separating these components.? (Aug 24, 2005 - Bill Callanan has provided a great description of the separation process).

The concrete is removed from the rebar using concrete pulverizers and
"Universal Processing" attachments. These tools pulverize the concrete and it
falls from the steel. Then the steel can be down sized using a shear
attachment on the excavator or down sized at the scrap yard. Either way the
down sizing of the steel prepares it for a smelter to be melted down.
By removing the concrete from the steel it can be recycled rather than
disposed of at a land fill. The concrete can be recycled as well once the
steel has been reused.

Here you can see the rebar (and rather long pieces) that has been separated from the concrete

Looking west at the Pearman worksite - an array of dental tools for penetrating the roadway and removing the concrete - all in preparation to remove the supporting steel beam structure.

The dental jackhammers used for punching through the road segements between the I-beams - the first step in cleaning I-beams. To me, to wipe the tops of the I-beams of the concrete roadbed with their instruments requires a skill that is difficult to imagine.

Our surgeons at work - cleaning the I-beams that from the base of a span

A closer viewe of the cleaned internal I-beam structure.

looking east at the Pearman superstructure. The superstructure is composed of 3 components: 1 cantilevered from each supporting concrete pier and then a central unit that is pinned to the cantilevered components. For removal, the points of pinning will be disrupted so that the central section can crop into the ship channel. Cranes will be used to life the dropped segment and place it on waiting barges for a final trip to somewhere.

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C. Frank Starmer