CONTRACTORS building a £117m bridge have reached another landmark moment in the project.

Cable stays are now fully tensioned and taking the entire bridge deck weight on Sunderland’s New Wear Crossing.

Structural engineer VSL International has stressed to capacity the 28 cable stays that connect the 105-metre high pylon to the bridge deck, meaning it is now fully self-supporting.

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The crossing is the first to be erected over the Wear in more than 40 years and is due to be completed in the spring.

Linking Castletown to the north of the river with Pallion on the south, regeneration bosses say it provides scope for a riverbank renaissance, which could see existing companies expand or new firms move to the city.

It is also expected to complement re-development of the former Vaux brewery site into an office and leisure complex.

In the coming weeks, workers will begin removing and dismantling temporary supports on the bridge, while scaffolding on the pylon is also being gradually removed.

However, officials say a lot of work remains, particularly to the bridge deck and north and southern approach roads, with surfacing, paving, lighting and associated finishing work to be carried out.

Councillor Paul Watson, Sunderland City Council leader, said: “The bridge will be a striking addition to the city, but I think it will do far more than enable people to cross the river.

“It will bring a new confidence to Sunderland, will help regenerate land along the river in Pallion, assist in the creation of jobs and attract much-needed investment.

“A step change lies ahead for Sunderland.”

Work began on the crossing in May 2015.

Martin O’Neill, regional manager for Farrans Construction, which formed a joint venture with Victor Buyck Steel Construction to deliver the project, said he was pleased with its progress.

He added: “Tensioning of the cables is a pivotal point in the programme.

“There is still a lot to do, but we are now starting to look towards completion.

“We are on schedule to finish on time.”