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.

December 6, 2005:
Dropping the Grace span over Town Creek

Well I blew it - and managed to overwrite the initial 2 sec video of the blast - sigh. But Mickey and Randy saved the day. Jonathan Coultas also was part of the rescue mission and worked his magic with the Advanced Blasting Services (ABS) video to provide streaming versions for QuickTime. Here are video segments from them and a synthesized video from my still images.
The morning started well for me - an early morning (7:43) view of the Grace over Town Creek

Alan Lynes captured an early morning view from the Sea Breeze

About an hour later from the Port. Note that the red crane in the background will disappear later - after having lowered its giraffe neck to clear the underside of the Grace. Below you see it stationed to the left of the double-neck giraffe. The double-neck critter will do the work of pulling the Grace segments from Town Creek this evening - (see tonight's retrieval story Sparky and I put together).

The cranes for retrieval were all lined up at the starting line - (at least that what it seemed like to me)

and Mickey making last minute checks of the equipment

Everything worked perfectly - and here is the proof: Ignition from single video frames: T = 33 ms T = 67 ms

Initial downward movement

Continuing down -

Action from still frames - about 1 frame every 300 msec: T = 0 sec

T = 0.333 s

a close-up of the ignition process at T = 0.333 sec

A seagull watches from the left at T = 0.667 s

Here the seagull is clearly interested (above the right smoke) at T = 1.000 s

T = 1.333 s

T = 1.667 s

T = 2.000 s

T = 2.333 s

T = 2.667 s

T = 3.000 s

T = 3.333 s

T = 3.667 s

T = 4.000 s

Another group of seagulls flying from left to right at T = 4.333 s

T = 7 s

T = 10 s

T = 16 s

T = 149 s - You can see the white buoys floating in the water that mark sections of the bridge.

Backup up a bit - here is a part of the unseen story. To help locate the Grace span when it is under water, white buoys are attached to the top by cords and will mark the end points of each segment. See them resting on the top of the bridge - at the end of each V

Before - note there are no buoys in the water (an experimentalist's reference photo)

and after - white bobbing buoys

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer