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 22, 2006: Mickey Rogers and his ABS team

I am not sure how I first met Mickey but he has been my professor of controlled explosions. Here is Mickey and some of his team.

Mickey in different configurations

Some more of Mickey's team: Mickey Rogers, Ken Tully, Dave Holland and Philip Rogers

and here is Brett Rogers - cutting PVC sections

Something about preparations: Drilling

Now for the loading process - Ken inserts two sticks of dynamite with an embedded detonator and Mickey gently tamps it into place.

Another episode: Phillip loads a stemming bag while Ken tamps it into place.

After loading is completed - here is what the loaded columns look like. The red and yellow strings comprise the fusing - to the left and to the right are connected with yellow lines (9 msec delay). The red lines have 25 msec delay.

The result (before)


and after

Working from a barge - with Ken using the rod to tamp the material into place

and the result - detonation at the base

which propagates to the cap

Dropping the Town Creek Grace main span

Dropping M1 - M5 Pearman supports

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer