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.

June 7, 2006: My last visit to the unbuilding site

Kim picked me up and here is the Ravenel Bridge and 4 worksites: Tim unbuilding P-something, Michael, unbuilding P-something+?, Manny fishing with the divers and Ken / Mickey leading the template drilling process. Here is cousin Arthur

and Tim working on the Grace pier near Drum Island

And Pat (and the Capt Gary) repositioning Michael and his 1250

And the blasting worksite - P-11

Here is the template as seen on Monday: A collar that fits around the base of P-11 with guide holes to direct the drilling of the foundation.

Multipurpose Lewis is cutting a guide hole in the template we saw 2 days ago

A good view of the north end of the template, with one hole already loaded

The array of drilling sleeves.

and Lewis finishing cutting another guide hole

Then Lewis mounts the crane and lowers the sleeve

After drilling down about 4", James lowers the bit for drilling into the substructure foundation

After the hole is complete, the drill and drive shaft are removed and the hole is loaded - here James is handing Ken a cylinder of dynamite

and Ken loading

them tamping it into place

measuring the depth

and pouring in some stemming

When loading is complete, the shock tubes are prepared for lifting the drilling sleeve

At the same time, Derrick is drilling

Then a 12' extension of the drive shaft is greased and added

Adding the section

when loading is complete, the sleeve is capped

and the lift cables attached (by James)

and the sleeve is lifted

then Ken and James tie off the shock tubes

The sleeve is then moved to another hole in the template

and lowered

then James checks to see if it is vertically oriented

and the sleeve if lowered

and drilling the next hole starts.

and leaving the drilling worksite

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer