Daily Israel Report

Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway to ‘Drive People Crazy’

Good news for drivers on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway 1: It will be widened. Bad news: The project will cause huge traffic jams.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 5/29/2012, 9:19 AM

The long and winding road
The long and winding road
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The long and winding road known as Highway 1, the main artery connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, is finally to be widened to three lanes in each direction before the uphill entrance to Jerusalem, but the three-year project may cause people to find a different route. Work will start around September.

Daily drivers trying to make their way to work in the capital in the morning are more than familiar with 10 miles of crawling traffic, starting up the hill from the Shaar HaGai junction, near Beit Shemesh, and past the exit and sharp turn at Motza.

With peak traffic at 7,000 vehicles an hour, many of them heavy and slow-moving trucks, officials have decided to widen the four-lane highway to six lanes and straighten out the curves.

The 2.35 billion shekel ($610 million) project will not be completed until 2016. The work will be nerve-wracking for drivers until it is completed with an impressive tunnel and several bridges that will speed up traffic and leave historians anguishing for a view of the old two-lane road where Arab forces frequently ambushed Israeli vehicles in the War for Independence in 1948.

The worst congestion will occur between 2013 and 2015, and Globes reported that Highway 1 Administration chief David Landsman expects few traffic disruptions in the first year of the project, when most of the work will be on the highway’s shoulders.

However, things will get worse afterwards and although the road will remain open, he told Globes, “I cannot promise that the present traffic speed will be maintained." The speed may so low that drivers might want to avoid Highway 1.

Traffic engineers are banging their heads against the proverbial wall to come up with alternate routes. One possibility is the 443 highway that passes through Modi’in and parts of Samaria (Shomron). The highway once was an easy target for terrorists, and more soldiers will have to be posted if it is suggested as an alternate route.