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 7, 2005:
Picking girders from the Pearman

Each visit to the Cooper River work site starts at the base of the Grace Bridge. Today I wanted to catch the girder picking process: lifting steel girders over the Cooper River. By now it is routine to see a Testa team removoing roadway on the Mt. Pleasant side. Here is another view of a clash of the titans - shear to the left, grapple to the right and concrete cutter to the far right

Here is the setup seem from over Drum Island. Paul and Scott's teams + a girder spanning two supports to be lifted, a crane for lifting, and a crew of burners and iron workers to attach the girder to the crane and burn through the cross braces

Along side the barge supporting the crane is a barge waiting for the girders. Here, there are two girder - and soon there will be three.

Each girder has to be cleaned of the cross braces - a bit of burning here

This is cutting the last cross brace - starting

half way cut

and finished - with the brace falling to the right

At the same time, the straps for attaching to the girder are lowered

To prepare the girder for lifting - two holes are cut for the straps - shown here on one of the girders sleeping on the barge

The guys grab the straps

and feed them through the holes

attach them to the shackle

all seems ok

and now a short discussion

Next, to cut the cross members

Two teams - one cutting to the left

setting up on the right

Then cutting the outside cross members first

then cutting the middle

and here - a sort of symmetry in left and right workers

Then the final cut on the left - where the girder is attached to its extension (I'm not sure what to call this - but where the girders are joined on top of the pier cap

Then the lifting starts - first rotating the right side of the girder out (toward me). I stiched together a sequence of these images - so click to watch the action (2 Mb mpg video) - and watch the crane drive from right to left as he makes the final placement of the girder.

better seen here

When the girder is clear of all attachments - it is raised and simultaneously rotated to the left for positioning it over the barge

more rotating

and then lowering

and lowering -

and note that while lowering, the crane is walking to the left

until the girder is in position over the barge

Well not quite - a little nudge to make the positioning perfect

Now there are three girders on the barge

The sun says goodbye

and the guys take a break

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer