The Transportation Ministry announced on Sunday that its experiment of barring heavy trucks from using the roads leading into the capital during morning rush hour reduced travel times from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by an average of 58 percent.

The pilot project, which has been in place since December, proved such a success, said the ministry spokesman, that the restrictions would be made permanent.

Since trucks weighing more than 12 tons were banned from Highway 1 between Sha’ar Hagai and the Shoresh Interchange between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m, travel times have been reduced substantially. The steep inclines leading into Jerusalem cause heavy trucks to slow traffic considerably.

According to Transportation Ministry figures, travel between Sha’ar Hagai and Shoresh Interchange, which took 8.5 minutes before the experiment, was reduced by 45% and now takes 5.5 minutes. Similarly, travel time between the Harel Interchange and the Arazim Tunnel was cut in half, from 7 minutes to 3.33.

The travel times improved despite a 40% increase in the number of private vehicles using the route, which rose from 1,950 vehicles per hour to 3,700, the ministry said.

Highway 443, which runs parallel to Highway 1 a bit farther north, saw an increase in truck traffic due to the restrictions, but no substantial changes were registered to travel time, the ministry said.

The spokesman said that following the success of the pilot project, the ministry would consider taking similar steps in other locations. “The idea is to reduce travel times and to reduce pollution in key points at the entrance to the city. The minister [Yisrael Katz] has instructed the ministry staff to look at other problem points and determine whether similar solutions can work,” he said.

Gabi Ben-Arush, chairman of the Israel Road Transport Board, responded, “We don’t oppose the measure, but we do think it should be introduced along with a comprehensive reform. This solution is fine, we’ve found ways to work with it, but we would like to see reduced tolls for trucks using Highway 6 during the morning, and night-parking zones outside of the cities.

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