Tel Aviv traffic..
(photo credit: INIMAGE)
As part of plans to curb air pollution in the Haifa region, commercial trucks will cease operating on the city’s main traffic arteries during peak travel hours beginning on Tuesday.
The restrictions on heavy-vehicular activity are part of the larger National Action Plan for the Haifa Bay Area – steps approved in August by the government to curb emissions levels in a particularly problematic region for air pollution.
Among the elements of the plan is the establishment of the country’s first official Low Emission Zone (LEZ), in which such traffic is limited in a particular portion of a city pursuant to European standards.
“When there is a clear plan, energy, effort and cooperation, we see results,” Environmental Protection Minister Avi Gabbay said on Saturday night. “We will continue to take the initiative and do everything we can for Haifa residents to enjoy clean air.”
Diverting trucks from Haifa’s center during rush hour is the first step in creating the LEZ, the Environmental Protection Ministry explained.
These heavy vehicles will be prohibited from operating on the main travel arteries of the city’s downtown area from 6:30-9:30 a.m. and 3-6 p.m., a statement from the ministry explained.
The roads included in the ban are Ha’atzma’ut St., Jaffa St., Natanzon St., Shivat Tsiyon St., HaMeginim St., Allenby St., Hagefen St., Hatsiyonut Blvd., Rothschild St. and HaPalyam Blvd. Signs will be placed on the affected roads to remind truck drivers to either travel during non-rush hours or via the Haifa Port area instead.
In a separate but simultaneous move, beginning January 1, trucks up to 12 tons became entitled to 40 percent discounts for travel through the Carmel Tunnels as an incentive to reroute their paths there from the middle of the city, the Environment Ministry said.
The hope is that this step will both ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution resulting from transportation in the downtown area, according to the ministry.
The new fare adjustments were made possible due to an agreement between the Environment, Finance and Transportation ministries and Carmelton, the operator of the Carmel Tunnels.
“Fortunately, cooperation among ministries and with the Haifa municipality has brought good news to citizens,” said Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. “Residents of the bay area deserve to breathe clean air. We are working together with the Environmental Protection Ministry on a comprehensive, multi-year plan to reduce pollution in the bay area dramatically.”
Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav thanked the government officials involved for beginning to mobilize pollution- reduction plans for his city, emphasizing the importance of moving forward with additional steps.
“This is only the first stage in the general prohibition of truck movement and parking in Haifa, and an additional step in creating a greener Haifa,” Yahav said.