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.

November 2, 2005:
Removing girders over East Bay St.

Here is the setup - seen from the Ravenel Bicycle lane. On East Bay is the Grove 7550 crane and two man baskets. Above is a shear (and unseen behind the sheer is a grapple). The removal process is to
  1. Wrap the sling cables around the girder and attach to the horizontal iron beam held by the 7550.
  2. Lift the assembly until the slings are tight
  3. Use the shear to decouple the girder from the pier cap
  4. Lift the girder, rotate it and lower it to the Pearman ramp roadway
  5. Using the shear, cut the girder into 3 segments
  6. With the grapple, remove each segment from the working area

The night crew symphony conductor is Neil Myers (who was working this morning at 4am when I watched the cleanup after removing a section of Pearman roadway).

Iron workers are lifted to the girder where they attach the sling cables for lifting

After the cables are attached, Jack Foley uses his shear to disconnect the girder from the pier cap

a closer view

When freed, the girder is lifted by the 7550

clearing the roadway

rotated to the left

and lowered to the ramp surface

After the cables have been released, the 7550 rotates back to the right and the next girder is prepared

From a different position - you can see Jack's shear in place and the girder is about ready to be lifted

now the girder has cleared the pier attach point and will be rotated to rest on the roadway for post-processing (cutting it into 3 segments)

The girder is now positioned over the Pearman roadway and being lowered

so that it can be sut into 3 segments

Now from the Pearman ramp - here is one of the shackles used to hold the cables wrapping the girder

and here, the 7550 has raised the pull bar so that Jack can eat away at its attachment to the pier cap

Here is Jack driving his shear and setting up to decouple the girder

Setting up for the first bite (Note the shaft position that controls the shear blade opening)

then biting a bit deeper - (note the shaft position - with the shear in its open configuration

and the final bite (note the shaft position that closes the shear)

Stabilizing the girder while it is being nudged out of its 40 year home.

Lifiting the girder

Guiding the girder to rest on the wood block (lower right).

Here is Roy under Jack's the light of shear - slightly blurred because a 2 sec photo exposure is a bit long for Roy to stand still.. The last time I saw him was Saturday morning - he was running the hammer on the Pearman ramp (Mt Pleasant side). Without x-ray vision, it was impossible to catch his smile - but tonight, even blurred, you can see his smile.

Jack uses his shear to take a half-bite on the right and preparing for a half-bite on the left.

Here he is preparing for the last bite on the right.

Here Jack is taking the last bite of girder - which now is in 3 pieces

He first picks up the girder segment and rotates it for Roy

as seen here - so Roy can grab it

Roy grabs the girder fragment and Jack lets go

Roy uses his grapple to remove the girder fragment while Jack moves back for dislocating the next girder

The Ravenel Bridge takes on a different personality when viewed from the demolition site -

The Ravenel Bridge during a Pearman shock wave - i.e. Jack and Roy are working.

and so its time to leave the worksite with a last look at the Ravenel Bridge

Good night.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer