The 25km Eastern Corridor expressway linking Auckland and Manukau cities is expected to cost $460 million and require the demolition of up to 200 homes along Ti Rakau Drive in Pakuranga.
The six-lane road would include two bus lanes and four toll lanes for other vehicles. The speed limit would be 70km/h or 80km/h.
A path for pedestrians and cyclists would follow the route.
Supporters say the expressway could cut 40 minutes off a road journey from Pakuranga to the city in peak traffic.
The project would be completed in 2006-2008.