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 28, 2006:
Ironworker acrobats unbuilding the Pearman cantilever

Yesterday Sparky watched our acrobats remove the top section of the A the next to last step in competing the cantilever removal. Today, I watch the removal of the bottom section of the A - more ironworker acrobatics. Here is the worksite

and the crane bringing the cables for holding the to-be-cut segment (the half upside down V over the pier)

Two acrobats - one on each side grabbing the pair of cables

then orienting them - one for each side of the girder

and connecting a shackel to each side of the girder

and then gentle tension

Now to start cutting the girder - from our right to left

Burning a line across the girder

and then cutting across the edges

The last burn - and with your curious eyes, you can see the gap on left side opening.

A little more tension separates the girder from the base

and signaling to lift the girder segment



and lowering

Now for the other side - rotating to bring the cables to the nearer girder


attaching the shackel for one of the two cables

a closer view

sort of walking down the girder

another step

Then starting to cut the girder

The last of the cutting

a closer view

Signaling to lift

the girder is free

and moved to the barge

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C. Frank Starmer