Test openings of a new £145m bridge have proved successful as a project moves into "the final commissioning stage".

Construction of the £145m Gull Wing bridge in Lowestoft has seen the project progress into its latest crucial phase.

After a navigation channel had been temporarily closed to marine traffic for installation of the main and final bascule span of the town's long-awaited third crossing, it has now reopened ahead of schedule.

Leading building and civil engineering contractor Farrans Construction are continuing to oversee work on the bridge on behalf of Suffolk County Council.

The temporary suspension of navigation in Lake Lothing started on March 8 with the lake expected to be closed for three weeks.

With the works taking place during the channel closure said to be "critical" in "enabling the Gull Wing bridge to be operational", a county council spokesman said: "The temporary closure has now ended, and the navigation channel has reopened.

"The closure of Lake Lothing commenced on March 8 for the installation and initial testing of the bascule span of the Gull Wing.

Lowestoft Journal: The £145m Gull Wing bridge project in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick HowesThe £145m Gull Wing bridge project in Lowestoft. Picture: Mick Howes (Image: Mick Howes)

"The navigation channel was reopened ahead of schedule on March 28.

"All the planned works were completed, and the new bascule span has been successfully opened and closed."

With bridge safety and control systems being installed and tested, the council spokesman added: "The project is now ready for the final commissioning stage which will involve the installation and testing of the bridge safety and control systems, operator training and completion of highways works and landscaping."

The bridge will eventually be "the largest rolling bascule bridge in the world lifted using hydraulic cylinders", once complete - according to the county council - with the bascule span measuring 39.5 (130ft) long, 22m (72ft) wide and 35m (115ft) tall.

It will sit clear of the highest tide by 12m (39ft) and the J-beams will be more than 50m (164ft) above the sea.