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.

October 3, 2005:
Neil Myers and his night crew

Learning Links

I usually sleep when the night crew is working and I finally realized that catching the night crew in action needed a bit of catching up. And as usual, things don't always go according to plan. And in this case, the big Cat developed some sort of arthritis of the shear. Neil is on the left - and behind him is Larry working away at reversing the shear arthritis. What this is all about is removing the roadway on the Grace bridge. Basically the shear is used to eat the side rails and punch through the roadway onto a catch barge below (right)

What remains is the Grace skeleton

But like the day crews, there is a night crew - here is Tod (a torch man), Neil (the nigh super), Hugh (another torch man) and Ponch - who answers all the unanswered questions

Here is Larry welding away (this is a revolutionary treatment of shear arthritis)

Then there is a bit of cutting

and some more cutting

then the equivalent of sanding to remove the rough edges

and soon you have a revived 320, with Rick driving

In the meantime Ponch and Neil and Tod are doing whatever Ponch, Neil and Tod do while Rick is driving

The left rail is not completely cut so Tod finishes the cutting

and Rick removes the right rail

With the rails removed, Rick starts eating away at the edge barriers

and punching through the roadway

From below - the entire process is rather impressive. The Ravenel bridge in the background with the Pearman and Grace skeletons above and the crane and tug in their launching position.

A closer view

As the roadway is punched you can see a little light through the hole

which becomes larger and larger

The nice feature of night photography is that the exposure is long enough that you can see the trail of debris as it falls to the catch barge

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer