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 15, 2006:
Unbuilding Grace's Ramp

Its all my fault! - This is the first post this week and I realize that many of you are tired of visiting the unbuilding site and finding nothing changed. The good news is that Sparky caught a lot of action yesterday so I have an update - and more good news is that if you use an RSS subscription and an RSS reader, you can avoid accessing the web site when nothing has changed. The bad news is that next week is my last week and yet there is much more unbuilding going on - as well as building - the Mt Pleasant observation pier, the region between Meeting St and East Bay and who knows what else.

But there were also some hidden surprises this week from the Hebb family. Tina related young Josuha's adventures with locating in absentia in the dictionary and young Joshua reminded me that his dad, Michael, is a very wise man and has conveyed to Joshua - if you are going to do something, then give it your best. Wonderful advice from a 11 year old.

So here is today's story.

On the Pearman side, Mickey's team is busy drilling C-2 - the 2nd Pearman pier in the Cooper River, counting from west to east.

A closer view of the drilling work

Then on the Grace worksite - here is what Pio, Richie, Jackie, Roy, Sunny, Speedy and others that I forgot left after removing the roadway. Our favoriate ironworkers huddling before they start their cutting

Cutting on the south side

From a lower angle

Cutting on the north side

Looks like each has mounted a girder for some serious something

Watch them lift and rotate the roadway girders. (320x240 2 Mb mpeg). Here it is over the barge

Placed on the primary crane barge, the section is inspected before transferring to the "up the river" barge for disassembly at the Navy yard.

Scott checking something

then moving it to the barge (2 Mb video).

and lowering it.

Next - to remove the supporting piers - some serious buring.

A closer look

Starting the cut (my guess)

About half way to completion (my guess)

while the crane operator (?) holds the structure in place

another view

A nice view of our iron workers at each footing - cutting away like there is no tomorrow

I never tire of the fireworks

The final cut before lifting

Separation as the pier is lifted

Lifting the pier ( 2 Mb mpg video) and rotating it

and gently lowering it

and putting it into the prone (sleeping) position

A good view of the catch of the day - roadway sections and piers

The roadway support girders sleeping on the barge and ready to travel up the river

Lifting another section (with improved weather


and lowering

See you later

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer