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 19, 2005:
A closer look at the removal process (from Sparky Witte's photos)

The construction of the Pearman Bridge involved both prestressed concrete girders as well as steel girders. Here are some learning links to chase your curiosity about what prestressed concrete is all about. In the photos below - you can see reinforcing bars (rebar) dangling in all directions - the result of unbuilding a girder.

The Learning Links

Here is one of the last girders crossing Meeting Street

With grapples, the girder and the near support cap are more or less uprooted.

The rebar at the base of the supporting pier is cut

Working on the next girder, a grapple stabilizes the pier while the shear cleans the girder along its length

The girder is pushed off the supporting cap

and the shear cuts through the residual rebar

leaving only the supporting pier and cap

and another clash of the titans to uproot the pier and cap

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer