A second road tunnel is to be built under the River Tyne, the government has confirmed.
The current tunnel carries more than 11m vehicles a year
The news ends a lengthy campaign for another crossing, which could be completed by 2009.
The existing tunnel - opened in 1967 - links North and South Tyneside and carries more than 11m vehicles a year.
The new tunnel, which is likely to cost about £140m, will be built east of the existing site between Jarrow in South Tyneside and Howden in North Tyneside.
The government has said no public cash will be used to fund the project, which will be funded from tolls.
The news was welcomed by the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority (PTA), which argued for the crossing at a public inquiry.
PTA chairman David Wood said: "This is the news that businesses, regional agencies and drivers have all been waiting for.
"The new Tyne crossing has long been needed to reduce congestion and pollution at the Tyne Tunnel and, to a lesser extent, at the other Tyne crossings.
"We were always confident that the government would approve our application because congestion at the Tyne Tunnel is a serious problem and is holding back the county's economic prospects.
"I would like to thank our advisers, who will now take the project through to the next stage - the appointment of the concessionaire who will finance, design and construct the new tunnel and operate all the tunnels."
The PTA said it would do everything possible to reduce the massive disruption the construction project will cause on both sides of the river.
He added: "A project of this size and complexity cannot be built without having some impact on the lives of those who live close to it.
"However, I want to assure the residents of East Howdon and Jarrow, in particular, that we will do everything in our power to ensure that the impact is kept to a minimum."
A Department of Transport spokesman said: "In accordance with the Transport and Works Act, approval has been given for a second traffic crossing under the River Tyne.
"There will not be any government money involved in this and it is now up to regeneration agencies and others to fund it and get it built."