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.

February 25, 2006: Pio's jazz quintet plays Fell Pearman's main span

Sparky does not melt in the rain. Here is a sample of the 600 photos he took yesterday. To demonstrate Pio's versatility, here he is directing three semi-autonomous activities - chewing up girders (Jackie, Roy and Chris), loading bite-size fragments (Steve) and felling the main span (mostly Richie).

The Navy Yard worksite - and Pearman main span minus the ends a bit more.

The worksite at lunch - all surgical instruments in the resting position

The west end of Pearman's main span

Here is Pio and his Quintet:
composed of a trio of Chris, Pio and Richie

and Steve DeMello on the grapple

and his Dale Earnhardt #3 high speed excavator

and his jaws

Roy on his shear

and Jackie playing his shear

Actually, its a sextet if you include Kathy, Richie's cheerleader. Here is Kathy and her husband, Richie:
Young love is alive and well in this family

Watch Steve load

Here is Roy, 3 shears and a grapple

High speed recycling

Chris and his shear

Jackie behind his shear's cage

Steve and his grapple

Serious shearing going on


Cross bites (another relatively new surgical innovation requiring 2 shears)

Its raining, but nothing keeps Sparky from enjoying the day

Eating girders

Watch them Taking a bite of the main span (.8 Mb mpg). This is a superb example of the transverse biting procedure. More innovation from the Testa surgical team.

A closer view of the new transverse biting procedure

Lots of main span to chew on

Watch Richie burning (.8 Mb mpg)

Watch these guys pull the legs out from under Pearman's right side (1 Mb mpg) -

and the felled main span.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer