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The Gallery | Mersey Gateway reaches new heights

Two massive cranes have been used to place the two 240t two main girder sections for the movable scaffolding system (MSS)  which will be used to build the south approach viaducts for the Mersey Gateway project.

The 77m long centre section of the huge bridge building machine was lifted into place in Runcorn after Merseylink completed the biggest crane lift that will take place across the Mersey Gateway Project.

The new MSS will be used to build the south elevated approach viaduct connecting Runcorn’s main road network to the Mersey Gateway bridge.

The two cranes, one 700t and one 750t were used in a tandem lift, to raise the two MSS 240t main girder sections more than 12.2m and place them on landing skids on the first pier of the approach viaduct which is being built over the Astmoor Industrial Estate.

Each lift took around three hours, and the MSS is now being assembled using a self-erect tower crane to complete the work.

Once assembled, it will be launched into action across the Manchester Ship Canal and towards the River Mersey in September.

The team behind the build said that the new MSS was the same specification as Trinity, the machine that was currently building the north approach viaduct in Widnes, except it is red rather than orange.

A team of around 30 people worked on the lifts.

Merseylink general manager Hugh O’Connor said: “The engineering technology we’re bringing to this project is quite incredible, and it is going to be wonderful to see these two giant bridge building machines in action at the same time. Lifting the MSS 12m into place is a delicate task with significant safety risks, so we’re very pleased it has been completed successfully.”

The project has also extended two of three massive cranes to their maximum height marking the locations of each of the pylons on the bridge.

The largest – the south crane, located on the Runcorn side of the river – is now146m tall.

Mersey Gateway said that the differing heights reflected the different heights that the three pylons will reach when the bridge was complete. The south pylon will be 125m, the north pylon will be 110m and the central one will be 80m.

The cranes will be used for lifting materials and reinforcement for the pylons as well as for constructing and dismantling the temporary scaffolding that allows construction workers to access the site.

The 1km long Mersey Gateway Bridge is the centerpiece of the Mersey Gateway Project, which covers around 9km of road improvements and a series of major new junctions running throughout Runcorn and Widnes.

The new bridge is on track to open in autumn 2017.

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