Daily Israel Report

Tunnels for Tunnels: Key Jerusalem-TA Highway Tunnel Completed

As Hamas's deadly 'terror tunnels' continue to hit headlines, Israel is investing in a more life-giving type of tunnel.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/29/2014, 3:26 PM

Building the Jerusalem-TA tunnel
Building the Jerusalem-TA tunnel
Hillel Fendel

As anyone who has traveled to or from Jerusalem in the past year knows, the country's main Highway #1 leading from the capital to central Israel, is undergoing major revamping. 

Mountains are being carved out to add lanes, curves are being straightened, and, most significantly, the famous Motza slide-turn is being obviated by a majestic tunnel-overpass combination. 

This week, with Hamas death tunnels in the news in Gaza, a "tunnel of life" – national vibrancy, progress, and improved standard of living for Israel's citizenry – was completed: the northern tunnel under Mevaseret Zion.

Highway tunnels Hillel Fendel

The tunnel will eliminate the steep climb from Jerusalem to the Kastel area, and will be an important element in significantly cutting down driving time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. 

Representatives of both the government and the Netivei Yisrael Company, which won the tender to construct this segment of the highway, cheered as the bulldozer poked through the top of the tunnel-in-progress and the first rays of sunlight shone through the crack. 

Each of the two tunnels along this segment will be 800 meters long (approx. a half-mile), 15 meters wide, and 40 meters underground, with emergency passages between them. They will each have three traffic lanes, and state-of-the-art safety and traffic control systems.

Hillel Fendel

The tunnels are being dug using a "drill and explode" technique, enabling progress of between four and six meters a day. Much of the 14,000 truckloads of earth and rock that will have been removed to make way for the tunnels will be used to fill in the nearby Arza Valley, which needs to be "raised" so that the new roadway across it will be level.