The machine is being assembled in Widnes after arriving on site in 90 shipping containers. It will take between three and four months to construct.
When fully assembled, it will be 157m long, 8m high and measure 22m at its widest point. The MSS will begin to operate in early autumn. It will act as a concrete mould for the deck of the approach viaducts, which will be constructed in spans approximately 70m in length and over 18m wide.
It will be used to link the 11 bridge piers on the north side before being dismantled and transported to Runcorn to work on the nine piers of the southern approach to the new cable-stayed bridge being built across the Mersey.
Merseylink engineers worked with Norwegian company NRS to design the MSS. It took six months to refine the design and a further five months for the machine to be manufactured in China before being shipped to the UK. Portuguese subcontractor ConstruGomes will operate the MSS on site.
Richard Walker, project director of Merseylink, said: “The MSS was designed specifically for the Mersey Gateway Project. Only a handful of companies in the world have the specialist skills to be able to design, manufacture, and operate construction equipment of this size and scale. Using international expertise of this calibre has enabled us to create a unique piece of equipment that is vital to the bridge building process.”