Sunderland City Council has taken the gamble of calling for initial bids to build the proposed River Wear Crossing before Government approve for the plan.
The council is inviting contractors to prequalify to build the striking 336m span bridge, warning any upfront bidding costs cannot be reclaimed if the project fails to win funding.
Its proposed project is one of more than 45 major transport schemes in the Government development pool hoping to received cash from a £600m funding pot.
Ministers at the Department for Transport are due to reveal the successful bidders before the end of the year.
The Sunderland Strategic Transport Corridor project has been broken down into five distinct associated transport projects.
Detailed designs have been developed by the council for the bridge, which will feature two independent curving concrete and steel composite masts, with stays supporting the deck from one side of each mast only.
Although the design of the bridge and the highway works will not form part of the proposed contract, the contract may include contractor designed elements of the works.
The contract may also include the construction of highway improvement works to Wearmouth Bridge southern bridgehead.
Should funding be granted, the project is expected to get underway next October, with it being finished by November 2015.