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 12, 2007: Mickey and Ken at their best, T-1 unbuilt

Friday is a good day - and look what Mickey and his team did.

The worksite: T-1, Container barrier to the right and leftover Grace and Pearman bones in the foreground


and team - Mickey, Ken, Paul, Carlos, Randy and a video crew


Manny's elevator


Carlos with the transmitter and Mickey's tripod. Behind, Mickey and his mobile phone - calling Singapore?


Ken doing the tie in of the shock tube array to the receiver - Mickey and Ken typically use Nonel detonators


Mickey: Advanced Blasting Services and Carlos: Advanced Ironworker Acrobats


The video team from the Discovery Channel


Unsung heros - Manny and Stan


Hollywood at the port


Pre-blast Discovery interview - Chris Starr would call this Discovery Learning




Manny's elevator on the way up


to the top floor


Hmmm - Mickey has some new caps - where is mine???


Wow - a room with a view


Mickey's setup on the top of T-2


Randy and Carlos looking up from the best seat in the house: atop T-2. Mickey is fiddling around with something (right) next to the transmitter


and a great view of the Ravenel Bridge


A view of the worksite from above


The Discovery Channel professionals- they wear dark shirts!


The worksite from above


another view of the worksite: T-1, shock wave absorbers to the right


Mickey and his D-70 on the Manfrotto tripod. Hey Mickey - I passed my D-70 to my daughter, got a D-200 that takes 5 frames/sec of high res. for your next blast. In the meantime, I have graduated from unbuilding to Singapore insects. Clearly I need to improve my focus - but watch out, I'm catching up.




and another view of the Ravenel


Just before the blast - the incoming port traffic is stopped


Click image for full display of ignition.
Here is a frame by frame illustration of the ignition and detonation sequence. Before (left) and initial shock tube ignition (right)

jan_12_t1_frame_300.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_301.jpg

T = 66 msec          T = 100 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_302.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_303.jpg

T = 133 msec          T = 166 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_304.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_305.jpg

T = 200 msec          Note the shock tube track from the columns to the cross member T = 233 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_306.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_307.jpg

T = 266 msec          T = 300 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_308.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_309.jpg

T = 333 msec          T = 366 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_310.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_311.jpg

T = 400 msec         Note detonation at the base of each column T = 433 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_312.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_313.jpg

T = 466 msec          T = 500 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_314.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_315.jpg

T = 533 msec          T = 566 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_316.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_317.jpg

T = 600 msec          T = 633 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_318.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_319.jpg

T = 666 msec          T = 700 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_320.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_321.jpg

T = 733 msec          T = 766 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_322.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_323.jpg

T = 800 msec          T = 833 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_324.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_325.jpg

T = 866 msec          T = 900 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_326.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_327.jpg

T = 933 msec          T = 966 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_328.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_329.jpg

T = 1000 msec          T = 1033 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_330.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_331.jpg

T = 1066 msec          T = 1100 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_332.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_333.jpg

T = 1133 msec          T = 1166 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_334.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_335.jpg

T = 1200 msec          T = 1233 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_336.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_337.jpg

T = 1266 msec          T = 1300 msec

jan_12_t1_frame_338.jpg jan_12_t1_frame_339.jpg

Sparky, was able to catch the action from Manny's elevator - and what a view. Initial ignition and blast - note the position of the cargo shock absorbers


Here is a high resolution image of the shock tube ignition (crawling up the left column)


Here is the frame by frame view of ignition and detonation. Note Then detonation


Here is a high resolution of the initial detonation. Note that Mickey set charges only in the middle of the pier cap. More important - compare the lateral spread of debris on the left and right. The left side was not wrapped in chain link fence while the right side was. You can clearly see that the fence did a remarkable job of contrining the lateral distribution of the right sided implosion. Nice work, indeed!!!


The stacked shipping containers - configured as shock wave absorbers are doing their job - slowly tilting


absorbing the shock wave from the base


and the collapse continues


All over - shock absorbers did their job containing the lateral shock wave


Sparky got a really great shot of the top of the Grace pier


No more T-1


The shock absorbers from the ground


Looking back


and no sooner was everyone down than clean up started - Michael and team


The camera crew


and looking back from the SeaBreeze parking lot


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer