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 13, 2006:
Multiple Personalities of a Testa Operatore

When I first met Chris Vocci he was operating the 7550 crane picking girders from the Pearman ramp over East Bay. I managed to misnamed him (a similar mistake that I perfected with Michael Hebb and Jack Foley) - which has turned out to be a great way to meet people since someone usually writes email and corrects me. Last week when Sparky was out at the Navy yard, what did we find but all purpose Richie operating a grapple. Sparky sent some photos from yesterday's action at Town Creek and Drum Island and included were a few photos of someone operating a grapple and loading metal sheets onto a dump truck operated by someone else. Michael has become my people identifier - and it turns out that he was operating the grapple (Joshua - look at your dad run a grapple - which is he better with - the grapple or the shear?) while Chris Vocci was operating the dump truck.

Mar 16, 2006 - Joshua today replied:

Hi Frank it's me Joshua,

My answer to your question is that he is equally good at both the grapple 
and shear because he is good at everything he does.  
My dad always says when you do something give it your all.  
From Joshua - this is a good message for all of us!

Our Testa team with multiple personalities and no longer can I associate a machine with a person. Here is today's story.

Watch Michael pick up a steel plate

move it over the top of Chris's truck

and gently lay it down, so as not to disturb Chris

At the same time the cape may is playing 1 crane spud to reposition the barge

With Mike Nally carefully looking on

Here is the Cape May with Grace bones from the deeps of Town Creek

All sorts of Graceful bones

Different Graceful bones

as Mike maps out the next move

Then Art and the Eddie R moves the Cape May

and just like with the main spans of the Ravenel Bridge, Art closes the gap between the two barges


and tie off

T3 being prepared for imploding the substructure. Mickey's team (Silas and Brett) have been drilling 45' vertical holes for the explosive charges.

and a closer view at Michael's work - a clean surface for Silas and Brett. Mickey's team should complete the drilling today - so perhaps later this week when all the Grace debris is gone, T-3, also known as Tenacity of Purpose, will similarly disappear.

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C. Frank Starmer