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.

March 01, 2006:
The Cooper River is now Graceless

A Day for the Iron Workers

Summary of Today

Our favorite Ironworker acrobats have formally proclaimed that the Cooper River is Graceless

and for a photo op via Sparky from guess where? -
Our fantastic iron workers put on quite a show for us. (Mike's comment - what they will do for a photo)

and a different pose (sort of)

and from Frank's place on the barge

The beginning

and the end - Grace's main span - up the river

And a view of the Graceless Cooper River

Now for the main story

The day started early with Sparky, Cashman, Testa and Mammoet

We rode out with Captain Art - and the Eddie R

But Captain Pat left with the Capt. Gary before we left

and with the Ravenel and early sunrise

Sparky, Rip and the jack-up barge

Sparky and Cousin Arthur

A Graceful Cooper River (before) - 440 metric tons of pure gold

The Grace main span

Sunrise over Mt Pleasant

Mike, directing the lowering and Sparky on the Capt. Gary

Chris and Sonny - getting ready for some serious action

Mehrdad (the chief construction engineer with Weidlinger Associates), Joe and Abdi - serious about today's plan

Joe in deep thought and Abdi looking at where the action will be

Another group of guys arriving and the ABS drilling team

Here Nugget and Stan are preparing the elevator

Sparky got a good view of my photo spot

Work starts with cutting the upper box girder on the main span side (east)

and west

while the Cape May is positioned under the main span

and the lower box girder on the cantilever side (west)

and east side

The gap in the top box girder

The Mammoet assembly consists of two hydraulic jacks that lower the main span 40 cm (about 16 inches) for each stroke of the piston. For this job, only 4 jacks are required. When Mammoet retrieved the Russian nuclear submarine, Kursk 28 jacks were used.

Here is the piston in the up position

and in the down position

The beginning - 9:22 - Lowering Grace Click for video (23 Mb mpg from 500 still images)




While the main span is being lowered - what to do? Fish of course, using Randy's rod- and sharing the pleasure with the other iron workers. Here is Stan taking a turn

After the main span is resting comfortably on the Cape May, tension is reduced on the hoist cables

With the main span down, cut the cables - on the south side

and Nugget cutting on the north side

as seen by Sparky

Nothing is too good for Grace - a gold chain 100% tie down for the trip up the river

Here is a pleased Cashman team

Derek, the great Mammoet who directs the Mammoet symphony, discusses today's concert to Sparky

A pleased Derek

Carlos prepares the flag and Derek will disconnect the Mammoet control wires

and off they go

and the closing ceremony by the iron workers. Here Carlos erects an American flag.

and the arriving East Team

Happy iron workers (Carlos, Sonny and Stan)

and where it all starts and ends - the East and West teams.

A gentle and graceful pushoff for Grace ( Click for a short video)

On her way home. Click for a video: Up a lazy river

Bye bye, Grace

and the end

Bud Skidmore from SC ETV and I often cross paths and he has a different view of the end: Grace on the Cape May

No more Grace

Ben Ingram caught the action from Patriot's Point

Cousin Arthur

And no Unbuilding story is complete without a progress report on Tenacity of Purpose

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer