New bypass road near the Dead Sea.
(photo credit: NETIVEI ISRAEL)
As the country’s Dead Sea region prepares for an influx of tourists this summer, a new road opened on Wednesday night to bypass sinkholes in the Ein Gedi area.
The 2-km. road, which runs parallel to Route 90 from the Ein Gedi youth hostel to the kibbutz’s agricultural fields, is the result of a NIS 24 million, two-year project conducted by Netivei Israel-National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd. On Wednesday night, entrance to the bypass road was opened in both directions, with travel limited to a 50-km.
per hour speed and regulated by four traffic circles, the company said.
In order to enable safe entry to the industrial area of Kibbutz Ein Gedi, the bypass road will be integrated with the so-called “Irish Bridge,” whose construction Netivei Israel also recently finished, the firm added.
All work on the bypass road occurred in full partnership with the Tamar Regional Council, according to Netivei Israel.
“Route 90 is a major traffic artery in the council and enables the transport of thousands of tourists and residents each day,” said Tamar Regional Council chairman Dov Litvinoff on Wednesday morning.
“With the understanding that this routine must be preserved, together with the Transportation Ministry and Netivei Israel, we were able to promote the sinkhole bypass road... with the goal of causing no harm to the summer months that are overflowing with tourists.”
Netivei Israel described the region as “one of the world’s most complex areas geologically,” due to the accelerated occurrence of sinkholes there in recent years caused by the lowering of the Dead Sea level and the sinking of land.
This past winter, sinkholes were particularly problematic, as the worsening conditions were exacerbated by poor weather. The appearance of new sinkholes caused road closures, as well as the need to quickly erect a temporary alternative lane in January for the immediate kibbutz area, because the official 2-km. bypass was still under construction.
Throughout the rainy season, additional sinkholes occurred, leading to traffic jams and other problems for the region.
While construction on the new bypass road has been completed, Litvinoff stressed that “Netivei Israel, the Transportation Ministry and Tamar Regional Council are regularly examining engineering solutions for the entire region.”