WORK to remove and replace the 50-year-old bridge over junction two of the M53 near Moreton starts tonight.

Four giant remote-controlled transporters will remove the 800-tonne structure - which carries the southbound entry slip road over the motorway - during the first weekend of the 11-month project. It will be slid along the motorway to an area where it can be safely broken up.

The motorway will be closed between junctions one and three for a full weekend to remove the bridge from 8pm tonight until 5am on Monday.

Without work taking place to replace the bridge, Highways England say they would need to introduce restrictions for HGVs in the future due to the bridge's ageing condition.

Engineers have been preparing the site for the work over the last few weeks.

Wirral Globe:

The bridge at junction 2 of the M53 will be removed and replaced

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 new bridge is due to open next summer.

A similar bridge on the southbound exit slip road at junction 2 opened in 2015 after the old bridge was removed.

Diversions will be in place for motorists as the work takes place.

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."

Wirral Globe:

Map showing the diversion route when the slip road is closed for bridge replacement 

The southbound entry slip road onto the M53 at junction two is closed for 11 months.

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 three instead.

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.

Mangat Bansal, Highways England's programme delivery manager in the North West, continued: "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."

For more details on the scheme, go to: