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 11, 2005:
Building a bridge and Unbuilding a column

The Testa guys can also build - and here is the story of building a work platform before start to unbuild the concrete pier.

Here is a before photo. The idea is to take down the pier on the left while protecting the railroad tracks.

The 1250 is first fed by Tony and then takes s short nap before working

The first task is to build a platform over the tracks, then protect the exposed tracks with a blanket, then launch the 1250 and start hammering at the left pier cap. Here Michael is taking a bundle of timbers to place between the two sets of tracks.

He rotates into the bridge building launching position

and gently places them between the tracks while Pio and Richie oversee the building.

Then the timbers are genly nudged up against the tracks

Then to build the bridge over the tracks, Mike is rotating another group of tembers into position

more rotation

and positioned to build the first part of the bridge

Positioning the next set of timbers

while Ryan is the fetch and tote man - bringing another set of timbers within Mike's grasp

and the handoff

After completing the bridge the slope of the on ramp is improved

as you can see here

then Ryan passes to Mike a segment of rubber carpet to protect the tracks

as seen here

and additional segment is added and positioned. To watch the carpet laying process click for a 16 Mb quicktime (mov) video

then its time to exit the platform

and launch the 1250

Here is the 1250 in its launching position

and onto the bridge (working position). Also note that on the left, that David and Bryan who manage the water are already positioned.

Now for unfolding the surgical tools for managing the pier cap unbuilding

and in position. Note that the water has started in order to manage dust.

Then hammering starts - and will not finish until some time tonight. Why? Today is a holiday and so there is minimal train traffic. Tomorrow will be train traffic as usual.

A closer view of the hammer and water spray.

A view of the overall work site

and from behind - the Port's temporary stonehenge and a sky painted with Carolina (UNC) blue (I lived in Chapel Hill for 32 years)

An interesting view from under the Morrison St on ramp.

and from East Bay looking south

and from East Bay looking east

and a final look at the work site

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

C. Frank Starmer