Work on Sunderland's new multi-million pound bridge has reached a key stage this week, as these pictures show
The cofferdam in the centre of the Wear - where the foundations to the bridge’s main A-frame pylon are being built - has been filled with almost 1500 cubic metres of concrete.
And, in another milestone in the construction, the steel frame of the first section of bridge deck is almost complete.
More than 100 people are now working on site, with the new bridge scheduled to be open by spring 2018.
The cofferdam is secured deep within the Wear riverbed and is where the 105m-high centrepiece of the bridge will be fixed. This week it was was filled with concrete to form the pile cap and foundation for the pylon.
More than 200 loads of concrete were poured into the cofferdam during a 26-hour continuous operation that started late on Sunday night and finished early on Tuesday morning.
Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: "The people of Sunderland have waited a long time for this, so it’s wonderful to finally see the bridge unfolding and our ambitions become a reality.
"The new crossing is going to attract investment into Sunderland, help to regenerate key areas along the river, and inject a great sense of pride into the community. There are no doubts in my mind that it will have a profound impact on the future of this great city."
The new bridge will span the Wear between Wessington Way in Castletown and European Way in Pallion. It is the first bridge to be built over the river in Sunderland for more than 40 years and is part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre with the A19.
The concrete was supplied by the Sunderland and Gateshead plants of Tarmac, which has been one of the main suppliers to the project since work got underway in May 2015.
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director for FVB joint venture, created by Farrans Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction to deliver the contract on behalf of Sunderland City Council, said: "We are in an extremely busy period, with work in the cofferdam having achieved another key milestone, the first section of bridge deck well underway, and improvements to the road network around the site progressing very well.
"The concrete pour was a major task because it had to be completed at a pace and without interruption over a prolonged period, meaning we had a continuous flow of concrete mixers coming to site both day and night. We worked closely with Tarmac to ensure the operation ran smoothly and was a success.
"People will be able to see a lot of activity in the coming months. It’s certainly a complex programme of work, but we have an excellent team of specialists who are bringing everything together very well."