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.

February 8, 2006: The end of Grace

Here is the Grace worksite about 10pm - all skeleton with only about 30 feet of roadway remaining to be unpoured

Richie asked me to turn around and looking away from Grace said "What do you see?". I looked and saw the back of his truck (left photo) and he sort of grinned and said "try again". With my curious eyes open, I looked again (right photo) and there was Frank and Ellen - a small steel sculpture from the guard rail. Hmmm - tonight was going to be interesting!

Rich was busy sawing roadway. A good view of the end of the roadway.

Jackie removed the roadway and Roy took it into the dark of night, to the Coleman Recycling center. Then came the last acts of the Grace roadway. Rich started with annointing the last sections of the Grace roadway

The last white marks on the shoulder indicating the final cuts.

Then sawing with a blur

Cutting the shoulder

Not to be outdone with the fireworks, Richie was doing a bit of scupture

the results

Encouraged by Richie, the sculpture is carefuly displayed by Jack and Roy. Soon these priceless pieces will appear in the New York gallery of Fine Arts.

More sawing

Jackie picks up a segment

and lays it gently on the roadway

Richie moves it

Roy moves in to pick up a pair of roadway segments

Jack lets go and Roy is off to the Coleman Recycling Center

Down to the last episode of unpouring the Grace roadway

Jack slowly rotating so we can all admire his operator skills and the last segment

Then Rich prepares the last section

with a few diagonal cuts

and the first corner of the Grace Bridge - now completely unpoured

Nothing but bones - the Grace skeleton

Richie prepares for the Grace to become another signature bridge

with some colorful calligraphy

Here is the signature barrier

The quartet minus Rich

and me. Jackie is not a half bad photographer - good night all - its 1am. Tomorrow starts their weekend at home with their families in Boston. Not a bad way to start the weekend!

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C. Frank Starmer