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EghtesadOnline: The construction of the first section of the freeway connecting Tehran to the northern Mazandaran Province has made 77.5% progress, a deputy minister of roads and urban development said.

“Some 3,400 workers are working at 133 construction sites across Section 1 using 970 construction machines,” Kheirollah Khademi, who is also the CEO of Construction and Development of Transportation Infrastructures Company, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

According to the official, the $2.2 billion freeway has made an overall progress of 45%. The rate stood at 18% at the beginning of last Iranian year (started March 21, 2015).

Initial plans to construct the Tehran-North project, which consists of four sections spanning 121 kilometers, were proposed about 20 years ago. The government of President Hassan Rouhani expedited work on the project by setting a deadline for the completion of Section 1 by March 2017. The 32-kilometer stretch will cut short the existing route by 60 kilometers, according to Financial Tribune.

Sections 2 and 3 pass through mountainous terrain and will take longer to complete.

The 20-kilometer-long Section 4 was inaugurated in March 2014.

Iran freeways Tehran-North freeway