Work on the new Metrolink line to Manchester Airport is progressing well, with the new viaduct over the River Mersey starting to take shape.
One of the key structures on the nine-mile route, the viaduct will carry the new tramway over the river and its flood plain, and has been specially designed to allow wildlife to inhabit the area beneath it and to allow plants to regrow.
Metrolink and its contractor MPT have also worked with wardens in the Mersey Valley to develop a conservation management plan to protect wildlife, habitats and vegetation. This will begin as soon as the construction is completed and will continue for a further 15 years.
On other parts of the line, track-laying has already begun and construction on some of the 15 new stops is under way. Once complete, the new line will extend from the South Manchester line, just after the St Werburgh's Road stop in Chorlton, all the way to Manchester Airport. It will run along Mauldeth Road West to the Mersey Valley, crossing the river on the new viaduct, and will then continue over the M60 and through Wythenshawe via Northern Moor, Baguley and the town centre before arriving at the brand-new Airport stop.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "It's great to see work progressing so well on the Airport line. The Mersey Valley viaduct is a major piece of infrastructure on the route, so the start of its construction is a milestone for the project.
"Once the line is complete, it will provide a fast, efficient and environmentally friendly public transport link to employment, education and leisure.
"It will connect Wythenshawe with not only the major employment centre of the Airport, but also with Manchester city centre and beyond, and will support regeneration along the route."
Philip Purdy, Transport for Greater Manchester's Metrolink Director, said: "The new line to Manchester Airport is all part of the wider expansion of Metrolink, which will see the network treble in size by 2016 to become the largest light rail network in the UK.
"So far, a lot of the work people have seen along the route has been to divert and protect utilities such as gas, electricity and water, so that future tram services won't be affected by utility maintenance or repairs - but now we're really into the construction phase of the project.
"People will now be starting to see not only structures like the new viaduct taking shape, but also stops being built and track being laid.
"The building of a new Metrolink line is a major undertaking and we're grateful for the patience and understanding of local people during the construction phase. We'll do our best to keep disruption to a minimum, and don't forget that local businesses along the route will remain open throughout."
Bryan Diggins, M-Pact Thales Project Director, said: "The new viaduct cuts through an environmentally sensitive area and is used extensively as an amenity area by runners, walkers, cyclists, golfers, horse riders and canoeists.
"Our team is very sensitive to the needs of these user groups and have adjusted our methods with this in mind. I would like to thank them for their patience, support and keen interest with our work."