Construction on the four lane Tauranga Eastern Link is expected to begin in early 2011.
The early start was announced in Tauranga on Thursday morning by Transport Minister Steven Joyce, who confirmed the government has approved tolling to help pay for the $455 million highway.
The highway will run from Te Maunga to Paengaroa at the junction of State Highway 2 and 33. It will include 17km of new road and 6km of existing highway.
Tolls will apply to the Te Puke bypass section from Domain Road to Paengaroa.
New Zealand Transport Agency regional director Harry Wilson says tenders from two consortia are being evaluated, with the successful tenderer expected to be announced in October.
"We know there will be a lot of interest in the project as it gets underway and we'll be working hard to keep people informed of progress," says Harry.
"This will include a dedicated website and an on-site visitor centre which is due to be opened next year.
"We are excited about what completing this project will mean for the Bay of Plenty and are grateful for the support of our local government partners - Tauranga City Council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council."