A TOP engineer who led the bridge building team has hailed the Mersey Gateway as a lasting legacy.

Hugh O’Connor, general manager of Merseylink, said: “This is one of the most iconic bridges in the world.

“We have had leading experts from South Korea and Spain working on the project.

“I am absolutely delighted and very proud to see it completed.

“It is the skill and ingenuity of our team that has made delivering this project possible but to achieve it we’ve used some incredible machinery to help us along the way.”

Workers battled with wind to lift heavy materials into place and rain proved a problem in recent weeks as the deadline approached.

“We employed all the techniques at our disposal to get the bridge finished on time,” said Mr O’Connor.

“We had to use a machine like a giant hairdryer to dry tarmac.”

The team will now spend the next six months decommissioning roads that are no longer needed, completing Ditton junction and completing the landscaping.

A 1,000 metre trestle bridge and three coffer dams, created to provide dry working areas to lay the concrete base for the pylon foundations, have to be dismantled.

Mr O’Connor added: “We also have to remove 200,000 tons of crushed rock from all the temporary roads built to allow construction traffic to cross the salt marsh.

“It will be a delicate operation.”