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MESA, Ariz. -- The first mile of a new freeway in Mesa is open and connected with an existing one.

The Arizona Department of Transportation said the new freeway is State Route 24, the Gateway Freeway.

It opened to traffic late Sunday afternoon and now connects freeway-to-freeway with the Loop 202, also known as the Santan Freeway.

ADOT said the one-mile stretch of SR 24 between Loop 202 and Ellsworth Road provides improved access to development in the region around Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

Construction of the $73 million dollar project began in March 2012.

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