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 22, 2005:
Harvesting girders

One thing that I have learned from the Unbuilding team is that nothing is routine. Processes that seem to me to be fairly fixed are, in reality, subject to unseen challenges. Today the issue was aligning the lift bar over the center of the concrete girder. From here, you can see the juxtaposition of the crane / barge and the shore - and the girders. So there is some difficulty in aligning the lift bar when looking from below.

Never-the-less, Bob McCabe and his team are adjusting, talking, phoning etc to get both teams synchronized. Here the ironworkers are coupling the lift bar to the girder. I have a rather jerky video by stiching photos together. Maybe it will bring a few smiles.

The girder is ready for detachment from the pier cap

Jack rolls in with his shear

Takes a bite or two which frees the girder

Then the lift starts - you can see the closer edge. Also, note that there are two shackles on the far end and three on this end - to provide a way to pivot the end of the girder up (my speculation).

Then the crane operator rotates his boom

while Brad, our safety man, looks at the process

The girder is lowered and uncoupled from the lift bar

and raised for attachment to the next girder

Just to improve the centering of the lift bar, time to bring out the tape measure and add a bit of precision to the adjustment

Then the slings are adjusted

the right sling is a bit uncooperative

while Jack (shear opeartor), Scotty (fork lift operator) and Brad look on

Then Jack moves in to divide the girder into 4 segments with a few well placed bites

and a deeper bite

and suddenly - a girder fragment

which Jack picks up

passes to Scotty

who transports it down the ramp

and deposits it in the girder harvest (for transplantation to a reef)

A look at the harvest - not bad for highway work

and bye bye for today

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer