Four giant remote-controlled transporters will remove an 800-tonne bridge from the M53 near Birkenhead during the first weekend in August.
The 50-year-old bridge, which carries the southbound entry slip road over the motorway at junction 2 near Moreton, will be slid along the M53 to an area away from the road where it can be safely demolished.
Without work taking place to replace the bridge, Highways England would need to introduce restrictions for HGVs in the future due to the bridge’s aging condition.
The lifting machines – known as self-propelled modular transporters – use moveable platforms on wheels to carry heavy loads including oil refinery equipment, electrical transformers and even ships.
The transporters are operated remotely and each of their multiple wheels can be turned 360 degrees, meaning they can move forwards, backwards and sideways with millimetre precision.
Mangat Bansal, Highways England’s programme delivery manager in the North West, said:
“The bridge over the M53 near Moreton has carried hundreds of thousands of vehicles over the past 50 years so has served drivers well, but it’s now showing its age and needs to be replaced.
“It’s going to be a pretty incredible sight watching the bridge being slid along the motorway, and using the transporters means we can safely demolish it away from the M53 without causing damage to the road surface.
“We’d like to thank drivers for their patience when the slip road or parts of the motorway are closed, and expect the new bridge to still be standing in at least 120 years’ time.”
The new bridge will be constructed using steel and concrete, and is due to open in summer 2021. A similar bridge on the southbound exit slip road at junction 2 opened in 2015 after the old bridge was removed.
The southbound entry slip road onto the M53 at junction 2 will be closed for 11 months from 10pm on Wednesday 22 July while work takes place to remove the existing bridge and install a new bridge.
Drivers wanting to head southbound will need to travel around a mile north along the M53 and turn around at junction 1, or enter the motorway at junction 3 instead.
The motorway will also be closed between junctions 1 and 3 for a full weekend to remove the bridge from 8pm on Friday 31 July until 5am on Monday 3 August. A diversion will take drivers along A roads through Moreton and Upton.
Temporary narrow lanes and a 50mph speed limit will remain in place on the M53 past the junction throughout the project for the safety of drivers and workers. Highways England’s contractors are also following strict safeguarding measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among the workforce.
More details on the scheme are available here: www.highwaysengland.co.uk/regions/north-west