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 24, 2006: Neil Myers - night owl

I usually sleep when the night crew is working and I finally realized that catching the night crew in action needed a bit of catching up. And as usual, things don't always go according to plan. Ponch took me up on the Grace in the early evening - here is Neil (from the left), Ponch and Hugh

And in this case, the one of the big Cats developed some sort of arthritis of the shear. Neil is in the foreground - and behind is Larry working away at reversing the shear arthritis. To the right and below is the catch barge for catching the debris (not to be confused with the barge / crane to the right

In the meantime Ponch and Neil and Tod are doing whatever Ponch, Neil and Tod do while Rick is driving

A couple of weeks later - the Grace roadway work was complete and Neil's group was harvesting girders from below while Paul's group was freeing the girders from above. Here is the his small orchestra: The overpass looking south down Immigration Drive. Jackie in his Cat (Paul's Team) above as the Chris and his crane (below) lowers a concrete girder

Neil directing from below while (silent) Paul - directs from above

A month later, Neil's team had worked its way to East Bay. I got to the work site late (meaning about 4am) when most of the action was over. Neil, to the right with his arms folded, has completed his conducting the night symphony orchestra

The night teams taught me a lot - and doing night photos was a big time learning experience for me. Neil made it all possible.

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C. Frank Starmer