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.

August 14, 2005: Pier extraction

With this addition of these photos, our bridge story has moved to the next level. Sparky Witte from Mt. Pleasant grew up here, has walked and bicycled the old bridges more times than he can count and captured the next phase of removing the I-26 overpass. Here are his photos showing the extraction of one of the pairs of piers and their cap. As you can see, the Testa guys are not only surgeons, but also dentists - just imagine a tooth extraction with two of the Stanley-LaBounty hydraulic units.

Positioning the grapple and shear to start the pier extraction (left) and cutting the far pier (right)

With the shear, cutting the near pier (left) and a gentle pull from the grapple (right)

Gentle lowering of the cap and upper pier segments

Continued lowering of the cap and pier segments until the tooth extraction is complete

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C. Frank Starmer