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.

November 4, 2005:
Pearman Progress: Picking girders

Starting at the beginning - here is the Ravenel Bridge, the Pearman skeleton - and off to the lower right you can see the red crane towers - the site of girder picking.

Here is the setup at the edge of Drum Island - The left crane does the lifting and placement of each girder spanning two pier caps while the right crane is sort of like a surgical assistant - helping with the fetching and toting. For the last girder, the right 2250 held it in place after the 4th girder had been taken down. This stabilized the 5th (edge) girder and prevented it from falling over.

Here you can see the exposed girders with internal X crossmembers.

I managed to get to the site just as they in the final stage of lowering this edge girder

Here you can see a white edge girder attached to the left crane with transverse supports (half X's) on the right side of the girder

Here you can see the burners at each end of the girder removing the skeletons of the cross members

A closer view of the cross-member xkeletons and burning through one of them

At the other end of the girder, removing the lower part of the X

A few minutes later, I got lucky and caught the final cutting of the upper member -

and here is the last cut as it dropped to the barge floor

Next some cutting from the top

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer