The $194 million Waikato Expressway Te Rapa project is running six months ahead of schedule with the opening of Koura Drive.
New Zealand Transport Agency, Waikato Expressway principal project manager, Richard Young, said the positioning of the Koura Drive interchange, which links to Te Kowhai Rd, was driven by the city's long-term growth plan for the Rotokauri area.
The 7.3km Te Rapa section includes two local road under-bridges designed to incorporate urban growth in the Rotokauri area and provides part of a future Hamilton northern arterial route.
Mr Young said that shared pedestrian and cyclist paths also feature along the section to link future residential areas on the east of the expressway to the development areas on the west.
Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker said the project was a significant development for Hamilton's growth.
"This expressway is vital infrastructure for our city and for economic growth in the region. With the city's growth continuing at a fast rate, the Waikato Expressway will be crucial in ensuring smooth traffic flow in and around Hamilton," she said.
Koura Drive is the first of three stages in the lead-up to officially opening the entire Te Rapa section in early December.
Today: Koura Drive opened. Ruffell Road will be closed to traffic and Onion Road realigned.
September 14: Te Kowhai Road closed on the eastern side of the expressway and new traffic signals erected at Ruffell Road.
December 2012: The entire Te Rapa section of the expressway open to traffic.