Four shortlisted construction firms will be invited to tender for the New Wear Crossing in Sunderland, which could create up to six thousand jobs across the city.
The crossing point will be from Castletown on the north bank of the Wear, to Pallion on the south side.
The bridge and approach roads will be the biggest civil engineering project in the North East.
The aim is to improve links from the A19 to the city centre, and open up areas for development along the south side of the river.
The Government is providing over £80m towards the project.
The tendering process is expected to take six months. Work could start next Spring, and will take about three years to complete.