The construction of the Mersey Gateway passed a major milestone today when the final segment of bridge deck was inserted to join the last deck sections together.
The historic moment came as members of the construction team completed the final key concrete pour between the south and central pylon decks, meaning the bridge deck now fully spans the River Mersey.
The Mersey Gateway deck runs for one kilometre across the river and is connected by its viaducts to the seven kilometres of newly-built roads that the Mersey Gateway team have constructed.
To mark the historic occasion school children visited the Mersey Gateway Bridge to declare the deck complete.
Cutting a ribbon on the deck last Thursday, as the penultimate segment was finished, Mia Lloyd-Bell and Candice Steadman from All Saints Primary School, in Runcorn, marked the achievement.
While there is still a lot of finishing works to be done before the bridge opens to traffic this autumn, the completion of the deck is symbolic and marks the first full crossing of the river since the Silver Jubilee Bridge was completed 56 years ago.
The Mersey Gateway’s iconic design features three pylons, of varying heights with the tallest – the south pylon – stretching 125m above the river.
Almost 90,000 cubic metres of concrete – equivalent to 36 Olympic-sized swimming pools – was used to build the Bridge, the North Approach Viaduct, and the South Approach Viaduct.
Together they measure almost 2.5km long.
The design of the project has been a source of inspiration to schoolchildren, with pupils at All Saints and Lunts Heath schools winning the school artwork competition after dozens of entries were submitted from pupils across Halton.
Children were asked what the bridge meant to them, and to create an artwork that embodied their interest in the new bridge.
Mia Lloyd-Bell, from Year 6 at All Saints School, said it would mean cleaner air in Runcorn from reduced traffic.
Andrew Bainbridge, Assistant Headteacher at All Saints School, who submitted Mia’s picture, said: “Being able to bring our pupils to the bridge deck for such an historic occasion is an event that will stay in these children’s memories for a long, long time,” he said.
“During the past few years they have watched in awe as the bridge has been built up out of the riverbed. It has been a massive source of inspiration for them, and will be for many years to come. Many of our children tell us they want to become civil engineers and architects.
“These children will be able to look back in years to come and say they were there when the crossing of the river was completed.”
While pupils from Lunts Heath School, in Widnes, will not be able to visit the bridge deck until September, their winning entry, a model of the bridge, was impressive.
Hugh O’Connor, General Manager of Merseylink, congratulated the pupils for their winning entries.
“From looking at the entries, and from being involved in the project from the start, it’s clear to see the passion and creativity it has stirred in school children across Halton, and the wider area,” he said.
“It’s great that our project is such an inspiration and valuable resource for teachers and pupils. Mr Bainbridge undertook a full week of activity related to the bridge. What a wonderful legacy to leave the people of Halton.”
Cllr Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council, praised the winning entries and said these children were among thousands across Halton who had taken an interest in engineering and construction since the project began.
“As well as building an iconic structure that puts Halton on the map, we’re building a legacy and aiding children’s ambition. This project has fuelled their interest in construction, engineering and technology,” he said.
“Having been involved in this project from the start I’m extremely proud to see the progress the team has made. This really is a momentous occasion and marks the first full crossing of the river since 1961.”
If you would like to find out more about the Mersey Gateway project, please visit: www.merseygateway.co.uk