The Transportation Ministry and the Israel National Roads Company have embarked upon on a NIS 2.5 billion project to overhaul a large chunk of Highway 1 – the main traffic conduit between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the ministry announced on Wednesday.

The road upgrades are will affect the section of Highway 1 that stretches from Sha’ar Hagai to the entrance of the capital.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz revealed the details of the plans – including new bridges, tunnels and interchanges – at a work site briefing on Wednesday alongside Shai Beres, CEO of Netivei Israel, the Israel National Roads Company.

Calling the project one of the most important plans of the Transportation Ministry today, Katz stressed that upgrading Highway 1 will improve the flow of vehicles in one of Israel’s most significant arteries.

According to the plans, the road will be expanded into three lanes in each direction along this 16-km. stretch, and will feature improved safety, with the addition of wider shoulders and the elimination of sharp turns and steep climbs, the ministry said.

An extensive system of new bridges and tunnels, as well as three new interchanges in Neveh Ilan, Hemed and Harel are critical aspects of the project.

The old Harel bridge, built decades ago, will be eliminated, and in its place will be two 700-m. tunnels that pass under the Harel ridge. Near the new Harel interchange will be a public-transportation terminal serving passengers traveling to both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the ministry explained.

The upgrades have plans to get rid of a dangerous portion of the road around Motza and instead to establish two threelane bridges of 800 m. in length that will crop up above Emek Motza.

“The expansion of Highway 1 into three lanes and the elimination of dangerous curves at Motza will enable tens of thousands of commuters to pass by traffic jams and reach Jerusalem quickly and safely,” Katz said.

Work began several months ago on the Sha’ar Hagai- to- Shoresh stretch of the Highway 1 upgrade, and little disturbance to traffic has occurred during the process, Katz stressed.

At Sha’ar Hagai, workers are constructing a special ecological corridor that allows animals dwelling in the surrounding woods to cross safely from one side of the highway to another.

During the renovation process two lanes will remain open in each direction on the highway, Beres explained. In order to minimize traffic jams during the massive construction project, however, road workers will be enhancing an alternative route – Highway 443 – serving as a second main artery into Jerusalem while the Highway 1 overhaul is occurring, the ministry said.

The Highway 443 upgrade includes the addition of a third lane along several sections of the road exclusively for public transportation use, as well as a third public transport lane at all traffic light junctions between Shemen interchange and Maccabim interchange, in both directions.

Many intercity bus lines that travel to Jerusalem on Highway 1 will travel on Highway 443 instead, in order to reduce the traffic load and shorten the duration of the trip, said the ministry. As a portion of Highway 443 crosses through the West Bank, additional inspection booths, as well as designated public transportation lanes, will be added to the Ofer and Maccabim checkpoints.

Near Mitzpe Modi’in will be a park-and-ride facility, first with 500 parking spaces and then with an additional 1,800, allowing travelers from the South and Highway 6 to park their cars and take special shuttles to Jerusalem instead, the ministry said. A tender for the operation of these shuttles is to be issued in the coming days.

Egged line 100, which connects travelers from the Shapirim park-and-ride lot to Jerusalem, would continue to operate, and the relevant authorities are to examine the possibility of extending the line’s route to additional portions of Jerusalem.

Currently the bus only stops in the National Precinct – home to the High Court of Justice, the Knesset, the Israel Museum and a few other points in that region. A direct train line from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is planned to run mornings and evenings, cutting travel time from 80 to 65 minutes.

All the infrastructure upgrades will be accompanied by a massive media campaign to inform drivers about the changes, as well as to encourage them to take advantage of the alternative routes provided, the ministry said.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger