It was three years ago, almost to the day, that Walker Ellis Associates shared the good news that we would be photographing the construction of the Mersey Gateway. We have done so monthly since then, until this week, our last visit to photograph progress before it makes a quiet opening under darkness tonight, followed by a firework display tomorrow night. And it is with some nostalgia that I drive back for the final time.
One of the joys of our job is to witness the seemingly inconceivable transform in to reality, right before our lens. Each time I visit the Mersey, accompanied on site by my host and driver, Dave, I am amazed by what has been achieved. With camera in hand, togged up comprehensively in PPE, I seek out 'progress' to photograph, observing the site like a real-life ‘spot-the-difference’ puzzle. And as I do, I can’t help but consider the enormity of the task at hand...completely in awe of all those who have contributed to the building of this iconic structure.
The 2012 Olympic games was the last time I found myself asking ‘how did the organisers make this incredible spectacle happen? And again, while taking in the progress up-close here each month, I find myself asking the same again. I try breaking it down in to bitesize chunks, speculating on what each role must involve. But as a layman, this too is mind-blowing for me. I really can’t imagine for example, how one would budget, or populate a spread sheet with viable quantities and costs at the outset, when the job ahead is so massive and there are so many unknowns. The quantities are too large for me to comprehend...colossal, finger-in-the-air kind of figures!
Not living nearby, I will not benefit from the improved road links and reduced journey times the bridge between north and south of the Mersey will bring those nearby. Yet as locals breathe a sigh of relief as diversions and police cones lift, I will miss seeing these same roadworks that greet me for the start of my working day on the Mersey, and monthly game of 'spot the difference'. Climbing dozens of flights of scaffolding, or shooting up to the top of one of the pylons with its' panoramic views of the estuary, never fails to invigorate, and provides an unusual, albeit gusty interlude to my working week, negating the need for any gym visit that night!
From tonight, the bridge will be used for its' intended purpose and will soon enough slip from our minds, as drivers pass across it, ambivalent to the complexity of the bridge's structure now hidden under layers of tarmac. I feel privileged to have seen it, to have witnessed the volume of rebar and concrete that went in to it, and will never look at bridges the same way again!
A big well done from us all at Walker Ellis Associates, we salute you all on your massive achievement.