Highway 6: Galilee to the Negev

The ‘Intrastate” Highway 6 (Kvish 6) opened its northern section Monday, connecting the Galilee with the Negev. Environmentalists are unhappy.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

A Highway 6 bridge
A Highway 6 bridge
Israel news photo

The ‘Intrastate” Highway 6 (Kvish 6) opened its northern section Monday, connecting the Galilee with the Negev, making driving safer and faster, but environmentalists are unhappy. The new 17-kilometer (10.5) mile stretch extends the highway from the Eeron junction, north of Netanya, to the Ein Tut junction, named after the Tut Elyakim river. The road now ends near Yokneam and the metropolitan Haifa area.

Construction of the road has spawned huge industrial parks and has been a boon for periphery areas that now are closer to the urban centers of the country.

Derech Eretz, the operators of the toll road, expect 30,000 motorists to use the new section every day. The new part of the Cross-Israel Highway includes 14 bridges and two tunnels, much to the consternation of environmentalists. They bitterly fought against the highway, which transverses rich natural areas near the Carmel hills overlooking Haifa. Dr. Michelle Portman, writing on Townonline.com, described the highway as a “kiss of death.”

A portion of Israel's Highway 6
Israel news photo: Rick Pelleg

Construction of the new section also was delayed after demonstrations by hareidi religious Jews, who pointed out that the highway would pass over the remains of Jewish graves, in violation of Jewish law.

A compromise was reached that moved the highway several feet to the side, and a sealed separation was built between the road surface and the bones. In addition, pipes were extended from the graves to allow air to enter.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) dedicated the extension of the highway, which now allows residents in Zichron Yaakov, a suburb of Haifa, to reach the Ben Gurion Airport in one hour.

Highway 6 now is 140 kilometers (87 miles) long, with its southern tip slightly north of the junction with Kibbutz Beit Kama, located several miles north of Be’er Sheva. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed last week to extend the highway to the “capital of the Negev.”

Highway 6, also known as the Trans-Israel Highway, features electronic toll collection via a system of cameras that photograph license plates. Bills then are sent to the owners of the vehicles.