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 26, 2005:
Girder removal process of the Pearman on-ramp: Cooper and Lee Streets (from Sparky Witte).

The five remaining girders are removed one at a time using two grapples - the right one stabilizes the girder while the left one pulls it away from the pier cap

You can see the left side pulled back while the right side begins to drop

and here the two grapples gently lay the girder down

And now there are four - with grapples at each end

The left side pulled back while the right side drops

and sort of put to bed

and now there are three

with the third gently lowered to the ground

Removing the last edge girder - the right grapple stabilizes the girder while the left grapple disrupts the structural integrity

by pulling the left segment back

and then a controlled drop

Nice job - and all removed

Removing the Piers and Cap

Our Testa surgeon grabs the left side of the pier cap

Pulls it forward a bit

and a little more

releases and a small free fall

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C. Frank Starmer