The new Wear Crossing has been listed as a national priority for the Government.
The bridge, which will be the first to be built over the Wear in Sunderland for more than 40 years, is included in the Government’s National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which sets out its building priorities for the next five years.
The new bridge, currently under construction and due to be completed by spring 2018, is included in the plan after meeting the following criteria:
* It is nationally significant and will deliver substantial new or replacement infrastructure of enhanced quality, sustainability and capacity
* It has the potential to drive economic growth or unlock significant private investment
* It makes a significant contribution to the Government’s strategic objectives
The new bridge crosses the Wear between Wessington Way, Castletown, and European Way, Pallion, and is part of the council's wider plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19, cutting journey times for drivers, regenerate land along the river and attract investment.
The bridge will also create 6,000 new jobs at development sites along the river.
Sunderland City Council Leader, Coun Paul Watson, said: "I’m glad Government has once again recognised the importance of this great project, not only for the people of Sunderland, but for the wider North East economy too, by including it in its latest national infrastructure plan.
"There is no doubt that this project meets each of the criteria set out in the plan. It will drive economic growth in the city, enhance the quality of life of residents, commuters and those who use public transport, and will give businesses a competitive edge.
"We’re really excited to see all of the work taking place in the river. I’m certain the New Wear Crossing is going to be a bridge to a better future."
The end of the year will see a major milestone in the construction of the bridge when its centrepiece, a 105m A-frame pylon, is hoisted into position having been floated across from Belgium on a giant barge.
The pylon is twice as high as Nelson’s Column and taller than Big Ben’s clock tower.
Click here to see a video of how the bridge will be built.