John P. Grace Memorial Bridge
The John P. Grace Memorial Bridge, or the Cooper River Bridge as it was familiarly known, was a cantilever bridge that crossed the Cooper River in Charleston, South Carolina. It opened on August 8, 1929 and was built by the Cooper River Bridge Company. Shortridge Hardesty of Waddell & Hardesty, New York designed the bridge. The Silas N. Pearman Bridge was opened beside it in 1966 to relieve traffic. They were both replaced by the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge in 2005.

History
The bridge was owned by Cooper River Bridge, Inc., a private company. President of the company was John P. Grace, former mayor of Charleston. The bridge was built by a consortium of four engineering and construction firms. Construction lasted seventeen months, and the final cost of the bridge was six million dollars, to be financed by a 50-cent toll. The bridge had 2- 10 ft (3.0 m) lanes. In 1946 the state bought the bridge from Cooper River Bridge, Inc. and the 50-cent toll was removed. Unfortunately the same year a freighter rammed the bridge ripping down a 240-foot (73 m) section of it. Widening occurred in 1959 for a breakdown lane and in 1979 for a 3rd lane at the Charleston approach. By 1979, the bridge became functionally obsolete and there were many plans to replace the bridge, but not enough money.

Replacement
In 1995 the Grace bridge scored only a 4 out of 100 (4%), or an F, in safety. Arthur Ravenel Jr. ran for SC Senate as a way to solve the problem. He planned for an 8 lane bridge to replace the Grace/Pearman spans of US 17. Construction started in 2001 and the new bridge opened in July 2005, at which point the Grace bridge closed to traffic.

Demolition
After a "Burn The Bridges" run and a parade of 1929-era cars over the empty deck, demolition of the Grace Bridge began in August 2005. There had been a movement to try to sell the bridge or to place it on the National Register of Historic Places so that, after removal, it could be reassembled elsewhere, but most of the steel and concrete was either recycled or dropped into the ocean to start artificial fishing reefs. The unbuilding of the Grace Bridge took approximately 2 years and required closing the shipping lane for half a day as the main span was cut from the cantilever sections and lowered onto a barge below.

Media

2 photos