WORK to complete a £43 million bridge across the M6 is almost finished and set to open to motorists.

The staggering feat of engineering is a first in the UK, with the bridge being built through an existing roundabout, but also high above the busy junction 19.

As the finishing touches on the project are made, the Guardian was given a sneak preview of the work before it opens to traffic, expected to be on November 20.

Winsford Guardian: Work to build a new bridge over the M6 at junction 19 has taken 20 months

Patrick Cumming, project manager, spoke of his pride at completing such a difficult project in the middle of a global pandemic.

He said: "When Covid hit we weren't sure what the government guidelines would be.

"We had literally just arrived on site and were ready to start when the announcement came.

"We were having hourly meetings to try and plan how we could factor it into our plans

"But to be honest, we only really shut the plant down for about half a day while we implemented our processes."

Winsford Guardian: Work to build a new bridge over the M6 at junction 19 has taken 20 months

That included reconfiguring office spaces to allow for social distancing and ensuring all machinery was cleaned in between workers operating it.

"We even had to extend the car park as car sharing was no longer allowed," he added.

"We also had to ensure we got the transition between the day and night shifts right, so we basically had a cleaner on site for 24 hours a day."

As well as managing the obvious challenges posed by such a massive infrastructure project, Khalid El-Rayes, National Highways project manager spoke about the importance of managing the expectations of the local residents.

"Obviously Covid was a huge problem, but having this junction closed for two weeks around Christmas to put the steel beams in place was a massive thing," he said.

"We actually polled the local community to ask them whether they preferred us to shut the junction pre or post Christmas.

"They came back with the decision to shut it afterwards.

"But doing that work in January meant we actually lost the first weekend due to the cold weather.

"So we had to close it for another full weekend.

"That was the biggest challenge, but once we got that in place everything else just sits on top of it."

Winsford Guardian: Patrick Cumming , Jon Pettman, Khalid el- Rayes and Kennedy Muziria

Patrick Cumming, Jon Pettman, Khalid el-Rayes and Kennedy Muziria

Despite the obvious disruption caused by the 20-month project, the end result will mean there will be a much better flow of traffic on and off the motorway, with less stationary traffic also having environmental benefits.

"There's been a lot of construction in this area over the last five or six years, so it's important for us to have empathy towards the local community," he added.

"Traffic flows are likely to increase in the next 20 years.

"This is like the final piece in the puzzle to improve and upgrade the capacity of the motorway."