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.

January 4, 2006:
Preparing for the Mt. Pleasant pier

Mt. Pleasant is going to build a loooong pier out into the Cooper River on top of the bases of the Pearman piers. This requires that the caps and columns be removed down to some point - that, in this case, is painted red on each column. More precision work. Below you can beging to see the strategy unfold - dropping the piers down to the red lines just above the water level and then later, adding the floor girders and doing some reverse unbuilding - sometimes known as building.
Here is the Pearman worksite - only a few girders left to be harvested

Harvested girders ready for the Reef Transplantation Procedure

Here are the exposed floor girders. If you ignite your curious eyes, you will see the stub of a pier base between the 4th and 5th girders (from the right)

Hiding between the girders is a view of the preparation for the Mt Pleasant pier.

Looking from the Grace Bridge, you can see the red marks at the bottoms of the columns - just above the high water level - marking the foundation for the Mt. Pleasant fishing pier (Click image for a larger view)

Here is the barge with the 1250 (resting) that will reduce the columns to the height of the red marks

Another view showing Mickey's crew drilling vertical holes

Another view of the array of piers.

So, by now you are wondering how will they drop the columns near the shore. Shown here are a pear of flotation tracks. The idea is to mount an excavator on the top of these and simply drive out to the piers that are close to the shore and then hammer them down to the red marks.

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C. Frank Starmer