Bridge building machine, MSS Webster, has completed its final concrete pour on the £600m Mersey Gateway’s south approach viaduct. The 1,700-tonne machine has been working on the south approach viaduct for around 10 months, slowly creating the reinforced concrete deck expected to carry 60,000 vehicles each day.
Webster is one of two movable scaffolding systems, specially designed and built to construct the curved viaducts leading to the Mersey Gateway Bridge, the centrepiece of the project.
The final pour was a 28-hour operation that saw 1,133 cubic metres of concrete poured into a giant mould to complete the deck of the south approach viaduct. It has now been moved back one span and will slowly be dismantled over the next couple of months before being transported to Bratislava to join its fellow MSS Trinity, which finished some time ago at the Mersey and is now helping to build a new bridge over the River Danube. Remaining concrete will be poured from cranes and other equipment in locations where the MSS moulds are not needed.
Webster is 157m long and 8m high. It is 22m across at its widest point and weighs 1,700 tonnes.
Time-lapse film showing how MSS Webster was built.
In total since it started work MSS Webster has constructed eight spans of the south approach viaduct using 9,205 cubic metres of concrete, equivalent to filling four Olympic-sized swimming pools.
The massive machine has acted as a giant concrete mould, known as ‘formwork’, and needed to be assembled piece by piece. It was initially lifted into place with two giant cranes, one weighing 700 tonnes and one weighing 750 tonnes.
Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “To have reached this landmark just 10 months after building Webster is great news for the project.
“The viaducts on either side of the river are huge structures in themselves, with the south approach viaduct requiring a considerable degree of engineering and construction skill to build, as well as using a huge amount of material. This final pour on the south approach viaduct means we’re getting closer and closer to completing this iconic bridge.”
The Merseylink Consortium was appointed by Halton Council in 2014, on a 30-year contract to design, build, finance and operate the project. Its equity partners are Macquarie Capital Group, BBGI, and FCC Construcción. The construction joint venture is made up of Kier Infrastructure & Overseas, Samsung C&T Corporation and FCC Construcción S.A. Emovis will deliver and operate the tolling solution for the consortium through its Merseyflow brand. You can find out more about the tolls at www.merseyflow.co.uk.
The new bridge is scheduled to open in autumn 2017.