Tel Aviv's Ayalon Highway.
(photo credit: VIEWPOINT)
Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s Local Committee for Planning and Building has approved a plan to transform the city’s jampacked Ayalon Highway into an oasis of greenery.
The Ayalon Roofing Project proposes covering a 240-hectare (593-acre) section of Gush Dan’s principal traffic artery with a grassy roof. It would create a new public space for recreation while enabling traffic to continue flowing below.
The local committee on Wednesday decided to recommend advancing the plan to the Regional Committee for Planning and Building.
The project aims to completely change the look of the central region’s primary business area and is the country’s largest municipal venture, the Tel Aviv Municipality said, adding that the project will not only make available more public recreation areas, but do so without requiring the loss of existing open space.
The Ayalon Highway is infamous for its air pollution and noise and effectively slices the city in two. It is one of the country’s most heavily traveled roads, with about 750,000 vehicles using it daily.
By covering a large portion of the traffic artery with a green park, the city said it aims to both connect the municipality’s eastern and western portions and create a hub for cycling, hiking, green spaces, cafes, commercial activity and recreation. A large new park in the center of a major urban area can help address the shortage of public space and provide an attractive area for civic activities, the municipality said.
“Tel Aviv-Jaffa today marks an infrastructural, environmental and architectural milestone, and begins, in practice, a project that will surely attract both national and international attention,” Itai Pinkas, a city council member and chairman of the project’s steering committee, said. “The infrastructure that is the most densely packed in the Middle East – composed of trains, roads, sewage pipes, drainage, electricity, communications and more – will be transformed in a few years to a green and blossoming island in the heart of the city.”
The project, which is part of the city’s new master plan, is being overseen by Lerman Architects Ltd., in conjunction with the municipality’s Eastern Planning Department.
Design is slated to occur in two distinct phases: an “Ayalon Vision” stage, and an architecture, building and planning stage. Following the completion of these phases, the full master plan is expected to come to the local committee for discussion by early 2016, the city said.
The project will cost an estimated NIS 2b., and construction will occur gradually over the next few years, the municipality added.
“The shortage of open spaces is receiving a unique response in the form of creating new space [by using] existing space, while reducing environmental hazards and creating open spaces for the benefit of the city, its residents and visitors,” Pinkas said. “Beyond being the largest municipal roofing project in Israel – and one of the most ambitious in its history – the Ayalon Roofing Project will be one of the most impressive infrastructural-environmental ventures in the world, and a symbol of urban pride.”