New roads, bridges and tunnels will improve access to Jerusalem, cut traffic jams.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Israel is investing in its transportation infrastructure, including the addition of new roads and highways, giving wider access to Israel’s major cities from Judea and Samaria.
Massive construction projects are underway in the area of the capital, where a huge tunnel on Jerusalem’s west side under the neighborhood of Har Nof is the new Highway 16 project to facilitate entry to the city from the direction of Tel Aviv. A second project on the city’s east side will streamline traffic into Jerusalem from Maaleh Adumim, and a third project will double the width of Highway 60 that runs south to the Gush Etzion bloc.
Many of the new arteries are being built in Judea and Samaria, where Palestinian traffic is permitted on more than 99 percent of the roads.
Israel has been investing for the past 30 years in upgrading its transportation infrastructure, with much of the country now connected by four-lane highways from Beersheba in the south to Kiryat Shmona in the north.
During those three decades, Israel’s population has doubled to 9.2 million citizens, and the government has expanded not just highways, but also commuter rail, adding hundreds of kilometers of new lines to make commuting more efficient as well as to try getting environmentally sound solutions in place.
Last month, Transportation Minister Miri Regev presented a strategic plan to municipal leaders from Judea and Samaria, outlining the plans.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi told the AP that Regev’s proposed plan was “very thorough” and that the ministry was open to suggestions, “taking into account the needs of both populations, both the Jews and the Arabs.”
The area south of Jerusalem is famous for its traffic jams, with cars often backed up for several kilometers during rush hours on the two-lane Route 60, known as the “tunnel road” because of the two tunnels joined by a bridge that takes traffic to Gush Etzion.
Construction began last year on a $300 million project to widen the road to five lanes, including one lane dedicated to public transportation that will switch directions for the morning and evening rush hours. The project includes parallel new tunnels, and an additional bridge is expected to be completed in 2022.
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