The government has said it will fund up to £98m of the costs
Sunderland city councillors have approved plans to build England's tallest bridge across the River Wear.
The cable-stayed structure, which could cost up to £133m, would be 614ft (187m) high and more than 1,100ft (336m) long.
It will link Wessington Way on the north side of the river to Pallion New Road on the south.
The plans were agreed at a committee meeting on Thursday. Construction work could begin in 2012 with the bridge expected to open by 2015.
Janet Johnson, the Council's deputy chief executive, said: "This is a project that will bring significant benefits to the city by easing congestion, opening up new areas for regeneration and more jobs, and providing a new landmark for Sunderland and the North East."
It is hoped that the bridge will also improve access between the A19 and Sunderland city centre.
Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said the landmark bridge would be a "people's bridge".
He added: "It will be a distinctive new symbol for the city, help raise Sunderland's profile and the potential for greater prosperity and further regeneration along the river corridor, and in the city centre."
The bridge has been designed by Tyneside-born architect Stephen Spence and structural engineers Techniker.
Mr Spence said: "What is particularly pleasing, given that I was raised in the area, is seeing the support for the project from the community."
Before construction work can begin, the city council must secure ownership of the land and seek final approval from the Department for Transport.
Subject to further funding decisions, the city council is planning to contribute £32m towards the project, with the government and regional development agency One North East providing the rest.