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.

September 21 2005: Cutting Girders

Once the concrete roadway has been partially removed, the torch guys work their magic - cutting the end giders in two places so as to make 3 pairs of longitudinal girders. Once all the roadway has been removed, each pair of girders will be extracted with the grapple and then removed to the recycling site.

The cutting torch has a very long handle so that the operators can reach difficult places for cutting. And how does the torch cut? The gas mixture is oxygen and some fuel such as acetylene. When there is an excess of oxygen, the residual oxygen is available for burning the metal being cut. When there is an excess of fuel over oxygen, the torch is used to anneal two surfaces. Here you can see the worker cutting through the steel beam.

With both guys working - its like the 4th of July

and here, you can see the flame cutting through the beam and exiting on the opposite side

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C. Frank Starmer