Construction work on a new entrance road to Jerusalem, entering from the west of the capital, is set to begin after a construction permit was issued to developers on Sunday.Highway 16, estimated to cost over NIS 1 billion ($286m.), will aim to reduce congestion at the entrance to the city, serving incoming traffic from the west and south, and improve access to Begin Boulevard. Expected to open in 2022 or 2023, the five-kilometer highway will connect Route 1 from the Motza area to Givat Shaul and to Shmuel Bait Street in Jerusalem, near the Givat Mordechai Interchange.Two tunnels will be built underneath the city’s Har Nof and Yefe Nof neighborhoods, and the highway will include three interchanges at Motza, Nahal Revida and Bait Junction.“Highway 16 is a project of national importance that is expected to significantly reduce traffic congestion at the entrance to the capital,” said Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich. “The road, which will be constructed and maintained according to international standards, will cut down driving hours and significantly reduce air pollution, thereby bringing Jerusalem in line with transportation standards of capital cities of developed countries.”The highway will be constructed, operated and maintained for a period of 25 years by Shapir Pizzarotti Highway 16, a company jointly owned by Petah Tikva-based Shapir Civil and Marine Engineering and Italian construction company Impresa Pizzarotti & C.A permit for construction work to begin was issued after the company, which defeated five other bids in a competitive public-private partnership (PPP) tender, proved it had received sufficient funding to commence the project.“Following the reopening of Route 1 to traffic, the construction of Route 16 will significantly reduce traffic congestion at the entrance of Jerusalem and increase the welfare of city residents and visitors,” said Nisim Peretz, CEO of Netivei Israel, the government-owned company tasked with planning and developing Israel’s interurban road network.In an additional attempt to reduce congestion in the city, the Transportation Ministry, Jerusalem Municipality and the Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan Team finalized plans in September to construct a public transportation lane along Begin Boulevard.The new lane aims to reduce traffic along one of the city’s key thoroughfares, giving priority to public transit, and will be constructed along the existing road shoulder. The boulevard will then be widened to include an additional hard shoulder.Construction work done by MJDC, estimated to commence by the end of this year, is expected to take 12 months and cost approximately NIS 30 million. Temporary changes to traffic arrangements will be made along the route during construction.In July, Jerusalem authorities shut one of the primary routes into the capital for an estimated three-year period.Shazar Boulevard, a major road entering Jerusalem from Route 1 at the city’s northwest edge, will be blocked for all private vehicles from the Chords Bridge to the corner of Nordau Street until 2022.The closure is part of the second stage of the Jerusalem Gateway Project, an ambitious plan to turn the city entrance into one of the country’s leading business hubs.