Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Haifa on Tuesday to cut the ribbon at the official opening of the Carmel Tunnels.

Starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Israelis will, for a price, be able to cross from one side of the city to the other in less than eight minutes – a task that previously would have taken upward of half an hour in good traffic conditions.

The project is made up of two sections: two 3.2-kilometer- long dual-lane tunnels stretching from the Carmel Beach to the Rupin Junction in the middle of Haifa, and a set of 1.65-km.

tunnels stretching from Rupin to the Check Post, on the other side of Mount Carmel. The tunnels range from 50 meters-250 m.

below ground level.

The tunnels, which are the longest in Israel, feature stateof- the-art technology in monitoring, safety, traffic control and billing equipment.

The tunnels, which were initially envisioned during the British Mandate in the beginning of the 20th century, took over a decade to make their way through the statutory planning processes.

They were designed as a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) project, with Carmelton, a company jointly owned by Ashtrom and Shikun U’Binui, given license to build and operate the tunnels for 32 years before handing them over to the government.

The actual building of the tunnels and the set of seven bridges and bypasses that make it up took three years, and the whole project cost an estimated NIS 1.5 billion.

The investors hope to make their money back within 15 years, by charging drivers to use the road.

The cost of using the tunnel is NIS 5.70 per vehicle, per direction. Trucks will pay NIS 28.50 for the same trip, and public transportation vehicles will pay NIS 17.

Motorcyclists will be charged the same as private vehicles.

People who choose to use the tunnels will be required to register for a subscription.

Payment will be collected either in toll booths at the entrance to the tunnel or automatically by an electronic identification pass. Payment can be made in cash or by credit card.

Netanyahu said he was proud to have been prime minister when the cornerstone of the project was first laid, and now upon its completion.

“The project is part of a transportation revolution that includes highways to the Galilee, a railroad to Eilat and a train to the [Jordan] Valley, which will connect Haifa to the Jordan Valley and bring the periphery closer to the Center,” said Netanyahu.

“On January 29, 1997, 13 years ago, I took part in the tunnel’s inauguration ceremony,” he went on. “Many years of bureaucracy have passed by. We are committed to shrinking timetables and creating shortcuts through the bureaucracy.

We must lay the network of roads and train tracks more rapidly and enable faster planning and construction.”

He declared that “we are in the midst of the revolution, and I believe that all the citizens of Israel will see the changes quickly. We are carving a tunnel not only in the Carmel, but also in the bureaucracy.”

Amit Segev, deputy CEO of Shikun U’Binui, said that now that the construction was complete, nothing mattered but that the new tunnels would enable drivers to get where they needed to go quickly and efficiently.

“Today we inaugurated one of the largest infrastructure projects in Israel,” said Segev. “The project cost NIS 1.5b., and we completed it three months before schedule. Starting tomorrow, I invite all the people of Haifa and the North and all the drivers in Israel to experience a driving experience of the 21st century.”

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