Wild animals will soon be able to safely cross bustling Route 1 when the Israel National Roads Company completes work on an ecological corridor at the Sha’ar Hagai interchange.As part of the overall plan to upgrade the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv thoroughfare, the company said it aims to ensure that animals dwelling in the surrounding woods are able to securely pass from once side to the other. In doing so, workers began construction on Sunday of one of the largest such ecological corridors of its kind – which will in the end have a width of 70 meters, according to the company. Establishing this bridge will make Route 1 one of the greenest highways in all of Israel, the firm noted.“Upgrading Route 1 will improve the flow of traffic in one of Israel’s major arteries, and will allow tens of thousands of workers to pass through traffic and get to Jerusalem safely and quickly,” said Transportation Minister Israel Katz.In preparation for constructing the eco-bridge, the National Roads Company performed necessary area clearings together with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund. The design for the project occurred with the assistance of many consultants, landscapers, environmentalists and architects, the company said. Construction will occur throughout the next two weeks and should not interfere with vehicular traffic.The large amount of design creativity invested in this project will make it possible to integrate crucial transportation needs with the unique natural characteristics of the region, National Roads Company CEO Shai Beres said.In addition to erecting the ecological corridor for animals, the firm is implementing many other improvements on the highway. The new Route 1 will have three lanes on each side and will double in width – to 45 meters – and will also have fewer sharp curves, the company explained. Workers will be rebuilding Hamad and Harel junctions, as well as adding an interchange at Neveh Ilan, installing lighting, refurbishing drainage systems, filling in slopes and restoring landscape, the firm added.All in all, according to Katz, the project will establish a new system of bridges, tunnels and interchanges at an expanse of 16 kilometers, and will cost the government around NIS 2.5 billion.