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 31, 2005:
The life cycle of an old girder

Late afternoon brings warm light to the worksite. From the Port, here is an overview of the setup. To the right is the new Komatsu 1250 with an attached hammer. The reach is 125' - so that Michael, today's operator can hammer away at the pier cap and then work his way down until the colums and cap are a pile of concrete and rebar. To the left is the Grove 7550 crane (Chris Voci is driving) lifting girders from the Pearman ramp pier caps (550 Ton lift capacity) and placing them on the ramp roadway. This is the story of Paul's team and their management of the girders from the Pearman ramp.

Here is the setup for lifting a girder and their surgical instruments.

Another view of Chris driving the 7550(left) and Brad Kenerson (right) is driving the shear

while Ryan driving the grapple

And even these monsters need to be fed. Here is Tony Fiorenzi pumping diesel fuel into Brad's machine

Here is an outline of the process - first, invoking the Chris and his Grove 7550 below to lift the girder from the pier caps then lowering it onto the Pearman ramp

to rest on two maybe 6x6s - Paul is guiding to the left while Tod and Jed are guiding on the right

remove one side of the cable sling from the shackle

then lift the cable assembly and attach to the next girder

Here is a resting girder

Brad now takes a couple of bites - breaking the girder into 3 segments

while Ryan stabilizes the girder with his grapple

Its another clash of the titans

When a segment is free, Brad rotates it and passes it to Ryan who pushes it down the ramp - seen here in a quicktime video (7Mb).

Then the segment is transferred to a front loader and then driven to the bone yard at the base of the ramp

where all girder segments have a temporary home. These may find their way to an artifical reef or may be broken and recycled.

End of the day - a nice sunset looking west

while the east glows

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer