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.

January 17, 2006: A day in the life of our acrobats
Unbuilding both sides of the Grace cantilevers - a dance in two movements

You get to the work site when you get there and already a truss segment was being lowered.


On the Port side, our acrobats are preparing to free another segment

with the crane stabilizing it.

While on the other side of Town Creek - the elevator is taking another group of acrobats to their worksite

The context - a quartet: two cranes and two cantilever segments

Port side, they are cutting through the transverse girder

while on the Drum Island side, our acrobats are getting into position

On the Port side - the burning is just starting

a closer view of the cuts through the base of the girder on each side

A better view of cutting through the base of the I beam

almost complete on the nearer side

Then cuting through the top of the I beam on the near side

Cutting through the top of the I beam on the far side and you can see the nearer side gap at the completed diagonal cut

a little twist

and the I beam is free

rotated and

lowered to the barge

Meanwhile the Drum Island team continues preparing another segment for removal

cutting on the left

Lifting the segment

and lowering it to the barge



then on to the next segment

cutting to remove the cross bracing

while on the Port side, work starts for removing another segment

More cutting on the Drum Island segment

cutting the far sides of the cross brace

almost freeing it - and then

cutting through the far end

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer