Hundreds of people from the North East have been working on the new Wear Crossing bridge.
As many as 700 people have been inducted to work on the site since last May, with many businesses from the region working on the new bridge and the road improvement scheme, since May 2015.
The latest figures produced by contractor FVB, a joint venture team between Farads Construction and Victor Buyck Steel Construction, show that about 66 per cent of the contracts to supply materials to the Sunderland site have gone to businesses in the North East.
More than 75 per cent of these contracts have gone to businesses within a 20-mile radius, while more than 450 of people working on the site live within 20 miles.
Amy Wright, 26, from Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland, is a senior site engineer for Farrans.
She said: “When work got underway on the project, I really wanted to be involved so applied for a position with Farads as soon as I could.
“This is the biggest construction project in the North East, combining a range of complexities, skills and technologies, so it’s great to be involved. It’s a project I can learn from and something I can look back on with pride in years to come.
“The bridge will be an amazing structure for Sunderland. It’s wonderful that so many people will be involved.”
Work has stepped up a gear in recent weeks on the project, with significant work in the river beginning in preparation for construction of the foundations to support the 105m-tall pylon that will support the road across the bridge.
Stephen McCaffrey, Project Director for FVB joint venture, said: “When we began the project we were very keen to involve the local workforce and business community because this is a landmark structure that the people of Sunderland should be involved in and proud of.
“We are fortunate because the region has a wealth of skilled people and a variety of businesses that we can draw on, and we hope to continue to do so for the next two years.
“We have held three Meet the Buyer events and are constantly on the lookout for reliable, competent and qualified sub-contractors, suppliers and personnel, so if anyone is interested in future opportunities they should get in touch by email.”
The new bridge will cross the River Wear between Wessington Way in Castletown and European Way in Pallion and will be the first bridge to be built over the Wear in the city for more than 40 years.
The bridge is also part of the wider strategic transport plan to link the Port of Sunderland and city centre to the A19 and the A1.
Councillor Paul Watson, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “Work is really beginning to step up on the project now, and I’m sure people are as excited as I am about the bridge taking shape in the river.
“As well as helping to bring significant economic benefits to the city, we want this bridge to be a bridge for the people, so I’m glad to hear that people and businesses are benefiting from it through work and the supply of materials.”
A consultation is also underway to find a name for the bridge. The first phase of the consultation will agree on a theme for the name, such as Sunderland’s heritage and history, the appearance of the bridge, or its location.
Once a theme is agreed, people will then be asked to vote on their favourite name from a shortlist of suggestions.
Coun Watson added: “We also want to encourage people to get involved in the naming of the bridge. They can vote on their favourite theme for the name and will then be able to vote on their favourite from a list of suggestions. Every vote is important so we urge people to take part.”