A five-year roading project east of Tauranga has officially begun, with the turning of the first sod in Papamoa by Transport Minister Steven Joyce on Friday.
The Transport Agency says the sod turning is a significant milestone as the Eastern Link moves another step closer to reality.
It will be Bay of Plenty's largest-ever roading project and is one of seven roads of national significance.
The toll road will run from Baypark Stadium in Te Maunga to Paengaroa and will be made up of 17 kilometres of new road and an upgrade of six kilometres of existing highway.
It will end at the existing junction of State Highways 2 and 33 for Rotorua and Whakatane.