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 11, 2005:
Then next phase of Pearman unbuilding

This is sort of a week in review. The worksite - Pearman on the left and Grace on the right

The cranes are still sort of hanging around for the next phase which starts this week

Bob McCabe's team has completed girder and roadway removal up to the point where a change in strategy is required - looking west

and looking east

This is all that remains of the Pearman supports where a crane can be used to remove the girders

This is an inside joke. Ted runs the concrete cutter, and speaks Michigan English. Ted has little experience with multicultural groups and is unfamiliar with Boston English so the Boston guys think his name is Tad. To remind them that he really is Ted required a little sign on the shoulder

The next stage of unbuilding requires the services of a jack-up barge.

The jack-up barge is basically a barge with legs and teeth for climbing. (See the right-most leg). The legs are lowered to the river bottom in order to stabilize the barge. The platform is then jacked up and the excavators are used to disassemble the pier caps and supports. The strategy, though, it not clear to me just yet

Looking at the other end of the Pearman - all that remains are some supports, a few girders, the foot of D-25.

At the Mt. Pleasant end is the bone yard - harvested Pearman shoulders ready for transplantation to artifical reefs

Walking back, maintenance and repairs are required to keep the shears, specifically, in good working order. Here is Kevin working on in his shop.

In addition, the concrete cutting blades are frequently replaced. Ted gets about 350 feet of cutting when the roadway aggregate contains quartz and about 700 feet when softer and lighter aggregrate is used (specifically on the main spans).

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C. Frank Starmer