A massive bridge building machine is being assembled at the site of the Mersey Gateway Project.
The self-launching movable scaffolding system (MSS), is being put together at the Merseylink site and will be used to build elevated road viaducts over the salt marshes on both sides of the Mersey Estuary.
The MSS filled 90 shipping containers and will take between three and four months to construct.
When fully assembled, it will measure 157m long, 8m high and 22m at its widest point. It will weigh 1,500t - the equivalent of 124 double decker buses.
The MSS will begin to operate in early autumn, acting as a giant concrete mould for the deck of the approach viaducts, which will be constructed in spans approximately 70m in length and 18m wide.
The machine will be locked onto the bridge piers and concrete will be poured into the mould to cast a deck span. The equipment will then move along to cast the next span.
This process will be repeated until the 11 bridge piers on the north side have been connected, then it will be dismantled and transported to Runcorn so work can begin on the nine piers of the southern approach to the new bridge.
About 23,000m³ of concrete will be used to build the 19 spans.
Norwegian company NRS designed the MMS and it took a further six months to refine the design, and a further five months for the machine to be manufactured in China before being shipped to the UK.
Portuguese subcontractor ConstruGomes will operate the MSS on site.
Merseylink project director Richard Walker said “The MSS was designed specifically for the Mersey Gateway Project. Only a handful of companies in the world have the specialist skills to be able to design, manufacture and operate construction equipment of this size and scale.
Brideg construction will be shown on a live view camera on the Mersey Gateway website.
The MSS is expected to be on site until autumn 2016. Once the work on the approach viaducts is complete it will be dismantled and recycled.