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Bridge-building machine starts work on Mersey Gateway

Merseylink’s 1,700 tonne bridge-building machine has started work on England’s largest new bridge, the Mersey Gateway Bridge.

The machine, named Trinity, is a Movable Scaffolding System (MSS), and is specially designed and built to construct the curved viaducts leading to the bridge which will stand as the focus of the Mersey Gateway Project.

Trinity began work yesterday [21 January] in Widnes with a concrete pour of around 160 truck-loads, totalling 1,170 cubic metres over 24 hours, for the first deck section of the northern approach viaduct, which will lead to the new bridge.

Hugh O’Connor, general manager for Merseylink, says: “This is a hugely exciting time for our construction teams. An enormous amount of effort has gone into preparing and testing Trinity ahead of today’s concrete pour.

“We are delighted to achieve this important milestone and get this next phase of the project underway.”

Trinity is 157m long, 22m wide and weighs 1,700 tonnes and will be on site for the next 14 months.

Acting as a giant concrete mould, known as ‘formwork’, for the central deck of the north and south approach viaducts, it will take a few weeks to build each of the 19 70m-long spans, with this phase of the work expected to be completed in March 2017.

Councillor Rob Polhill, leader of Halton Borough Council and chair of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, says: “This is a significant step in the project, as the MSS has generated extensive interest both locally and globally.

“People will be able to see Trinity in action online via the webcam and by keeping a close eye on the Mersey Gateway social media channels.”

The construction process involves locking Trinity onto the bridge piers and then pouring concrete into the mould to create a deck span before moving along via hydraulic jacks to create the next deck span once one is completed, repeating the process.

Trinity being operated by MSS specialists ConstruGomes, working alongside Merseylink engineers and once the central part of the deck is complete, a machine called a wing traveller, currently being built on-site, will be used to build the outer part of the north approach viaduct.

The new bridge is scheduled to open in autumn 2017.