A major roading project aimed at easing the congestion on one of Auckland's busiest inner city routes has begun, a year ahead of schedule.
The Victoria Park project will see a new underground tunnel and a motorway widening the route linking State Highway 1 from the North Shore to the central business district.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce used a digger to turn the first sod for the project on Monday.
Mr Joyce says the $430 million project will double the capacity of the route and remove a peak-time bottleneck for the more than 160,000 vehicles which use the road each day.
The start date has been brought forward from November 2010 and Mr Joyce says the project is due for completion by early 2012. However, he says the construction team is hoping to have the road and tunnel ready in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.