PHOENIX -- The first mile of the new State Route 24 -- the Gateway Freeway -- is open to East Valley commuters.
The freeway-to-freeway interchange, which opened Sunday afternoon, features elevated ramps that allow drivers to make the connection between Loop 202 and SR 24 and travel to and from Ellsworth Road near Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.
The new $73 million freeway provides improved access to current and future economic development projects near the east side of Gateway Airport in southeast Mesa.
Construction began in March 2012.
"This project really is a down payment on the future," ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said during the ribbon-cutting event last month. "This is about, even decades from now, what this will represent. You have to start somewhere and the city of Mesa wanted to start here."
Plans call for State Route 24 to be extended east into Pinal County, where it would connect with a planned north-south freeway between Interstate 10 and US 60.
Future projects, including a next segment of State Route 24 east of Ellsworth Road in Maricopa County, are not yet funded.
Some good news for East Valley commuters: The first mile of SR 24 Gateway Freeway, is open this morning. http://t.co/IUG1q5VYmq— Arizona DOT (@ArizonaDOT) May 5, 2014
One person was killed and another was injured when some bridge supports collapsed last June. The two victims were part of a four-man crew that was removing the cribbing, which is the temporary structure that supported the concrete bridge during construction.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) handled the investigation.