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 11, 2007: Loading T-1 for Friday's Blast

Here is T-1, the worksite with Mickey, Ken and Jackie Sherrel loading and sequencing the dynamite for Friday's implosion


Ken and Jackie going up to load the cross-member


while Mickey is busy working on the tie-in at the base of T-1. Note the barrier of freight containers


Ken on the cross member


Receiving a powder punch for inserting the detonator with a tube of dynamite and tamping rod in his left hand


Here, inserting the detonator


and tamping the dynamite in place - while holding the shock tube coil


Getting the next tube of dynamite


and a bucket of stemming (small crushed rock to pack the hole


A nice view of the worksite with Ken in position


And Mickey, the architect, with his container shield


and sequencing the ignition pattern


Tieing in the shock tubes.


A view of the packed hole


The shock tube array (close). The red lines introduce a 25 msec delay while the yellow introduces a 9 msec delay. Thus the ignition sequence travels rapidly vertically (via the yellow shock tubes) before the lower detonators are triggered. The result, one of Mickey and Ken's perfect vertical drop implosions.


A good view of the shock tube array climbing the column


Day's end


and sunset.


and Sparky going home after a very long day


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer