The three giant tower cranes that have sat behind each pylon of the new £300m Mersey Gateway Bridge are being dismantled and removed as the bridge opening date draws closer.
Several other major pieces of bridge construction machinery, the form travellers and the wing travellers, will also be dismantled and leave the site in the next few days as they finish their work.
Work will start soon on the removal of the circular cofferdams that surround each of the three pylons.
The largest tower crane, located on the Runcorn side of the river, stands at over 146 metres at its maximum height, the equivalent of 32 double decker buses stacked on top of each other. It will be dismantled next week.
The North crane, closest to Widnes and the smaller central crane have already been dismantled and removed.
This leaves the three pylons standing tall against the sky, reaching 125 metres, 110 metres, and 80 metres in height.
The tower cranes were used for lifting materials and reinforcements for the bridge pylons as well as for constructing and dismantling the temporary scaffolding works that allowed construction workers to access the site. These were also needed if there was an emergency on site when the cranes could be used to rescue any personnel off the bridge deck.
The form travellers were used to build the main bridge deck between the bridge pylons. The wing travellers followed the Movable Scaffold System to build the outer deck of the approach viaducts that lead across the saltmarsh on both sides of the river and connect the main bridge to the main road network in Widnes and Runcorn.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “We’ve seen a constantly changing skyline across the river over the past three years and now we’re really starting to get a glimpse of what the finished bridge will look like. I have to say we’re very pleased with the work that the whole team has done, not just on the new bridge but right across the project from Ditton to the M56.”
The 1,000-metre long Mersey Gateway Bridge is the centerpiece of the Mersey Gateway Project, which covers around nine kilometres of road improvements and a series of major new junctions running throughout Runcorn and Widnes.
The new bridge and all the approach roads are on track to open in the autumn of 2017, at which point everyone who wants a discount on tolls across the river will need to have registered with tolling operator Merseyflow. The Silver Jubilee Bridge will shut for around 12 months at the same time to undergo a major refurbishment.
Both the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, and when it re-opens, the Silver Jubilee Bridge will be toll bridges.