A 6km stretch of the Tauranga Eastern Link (TEL) is set to open today and tomorrow - a milestone that is expected to reduce congestion and cut travel times.
The move is expected to cut more than a minute off the travelling time between Te Maunga and Domain Rd.
Up to 23,000 vehicles per day use the road.
View animated footage of what the TEL will look like below
The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) yesterday announced plans to open all four lanes of a stretch of the TEL between Te Maunga and Domain Rd early, ahead of the road's official opening later this year.
The two west-bound lanes were set to open today while the two east-bound lanes were scheduled to open tomorrow, depending on the weather.
The speed limit along the existing section of State Highway 2 will increase from 80km/h to 100km/h following the opening, reducing to 70km/h prior to the Domain Rd roundabout.
Wayne Troughton, NZTA senior project manager said the section of road was congested but the change would cut the travel time from five minutes to less than four minutes.
"Motorists will notice immediate time savings when travelling between Tauranga and Papamoa, which will give them a feel for what travelling the whole TEL will be like when it opens later this year," Mr Troughton said.
Originally planned to open next year, NZTA confirmed the link would be open this year, with speculation that it could be at the end of September.
Papamoa councillor Steve Morris (pictured left) said the early opening was "quite a moment".
It has been quite a pain going in and out in those early mornings.
"With the section that's opening up, it just picks up the whole suburb and moves it a couple of minutes closer to town.
"Since the time [TEL construction] began, the [Papamoa] suburb has continued to grow at quite a rate," said Mr Morris.
He said traffic delays caused by TEL road works had added about 15 minutes to the travelling time.
Lorraine Stevens, co-ordinator for Papamoa Neighbourhood Support said she had been using the alternative route via Papamoa Beach Rd to avoid traffic congestion along the TEL.
"I think that's fantastic and I can't wait.
"It'll make a huge difference to people going in and out and just having that access," said Mrs Stevens.
"It should free up a lot of [traffic] especially people going to work in the morning.
"It has been quite a pain going in and out in those early mornings." she said.
Mrs Stevens noticed a bottleneck of traffic on Papamoa Beach Rd and Maranui St and said opening of the section of the TEL would help alleviate congestion.
Mr Troughton said the local community and road users had been extremely patient during the project.
"I would like to say a big thank you to everyone for their patience while this section of State Highway 2 has been upgraded," he said.
Work would still be ongoing at the Domain Rd interchange and Mangatawa interchange, with the latter expected to open in late June.