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Drivers' Rush To Be First Using New Iran Freeway Causes Heavy Traffic

Vehicles waiting for the trial-opening of the long-awaited Tehran-North freeway on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.

Vehicles rushing to be the first in the trial-use of the Tehran-North Freeway on Wednesday caused heavy traffic at the entrance of the long-awaited freeway that will connect the capital to the resort cities of western Mazandaran in the Caspian Sea area.

The first segment of the freeway, which is 121 kilometer (75 miles) long, is scheduled to come on stream in early March. The whole project is set to be completed in two years, when there will be about 180 tunnels along the freeway.

Drivers queued to be first on a freeway opened for trial-use on Wednesday.

Planning for the Tehran-North freeway project, originally started before the Islamic revolution of 1979, and has taken twenty-three years to build so far. The long delay became a subject of public criticism and at times ridicule of government inefficiency.

The freeway is intended to cut the travel distance between Tehran and Chaloos by 65 kilometers (40 miles) and provide a safer route than the highly unsafe old road which winds through mountains at high altitudes and is prone to avalanches in winter.

Iran has one of the highest road fatalities in the world with nearly half a million lives lost in the past two decades. The number of road fatalities in this time period is higher than the official number of Iranian casualties in the 8 year Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.