New Yarkon bridges connect TA to Petah Tikva

"Yarkon illustrates wonderfully how cooperation between many bodies yields great results,” says JNF chairman Effi Stenzler.

Construction (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nestled among trees and the gurgling stream below, four new bridges have taken their places along the Yarkon River, enabling continuous walking and biking throughout Tel Aviv, Hod Hasharon and Petah Tikva – a triumph that was celebrated in a dedication at one of the bridges on Monday afternoon.
Next to one of the bridges, located near the Concrete House in Petah Tikva, the already-operating foot and bike overpasses were inaugurated in the presence of Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo and chairman of the Yarkon River Authority council Ron Huldai, Jewish National Fund chairman Effi Stenzler, Southern Sharon Regional Council chairman Moti Delgo, Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon, Hod Hasharon Mayor Chai Adiv and Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzhak Rochberger.
“This is like a revolution because until now, until these bridges were constructed, the only way to get across the river was to either get your feet wet or go up one of the bridges that was part of the highways, leaving the park,” Yarkon River Authority head David Pargament told The Jerusalem Post earlier that day.
“Now there are four bridges and you can do circular routes – all the possibilities are multiplied by several factors,” he continued.
The bridges are designed in such a way that rather than appearing as notable monuments, they blend into the scenery around them, according to Pargament.
“You don’t see these bridges until you’re 15-20 meters away,” he explained. “It was very important for us to maintain the atmosphere.”
The architects responsible for designing the four overpasses made this idea central in their construction process.
“The idea is that they will be integrated into the surroundings and are designed to be placed in close proximity to the stream, so that they are embedded into the route,” said Erez Lotan, from Lotan Landscape Architecture, in a statement.
“The bridges are designated for pedestrians and cyclists only, and are made from concrete primed with a hydrodynamic structure, and they are designed to withstand river flooding. The simplicity comes from the notion that the work doesn’t want to steal the show from the river, and the natural landscape. The main goal is to create a continuum for the many travelers visiting the area on foot or by bicycle.”
While the bridges have now been open and operating for six weeks, the process to get them underway was far from simple, Pargament told the Post.
“The process starts with the decision to build the bridges – that’s about six years ago,” he said.
After holding a competition, the authority chose its architect and began surveying and deciding which spots would be most suitable for the bridges, according to Pargament. Only then did they begin applying for permits to start building, which was often complicated and took about four-and-a-half-years, as many of the bridges had their two ends in different municipalities.
“In the last year since we have the building permits, we’ve been raising the funds to build the bridges,” he said, noting that these funds – NIS 2.1 million – predominantly come from the JNF and the Israeli Government Tourist Corporation, around half from each.
“It’s finished, it’s done, it’s completed,” he said, adding with great relief, however, that the walkers and cyclists that pass through seem to be quite pleased with the results.
“I congratulate the architects, planners and implementers of these bridges on complex work and impressive results,” JNF’s Stenzler said in a statement, crediting JNF Australia as particularly responsible for his group’s contributions. “Naturally, the river crosses many municipal authorities and stakeholders. The Yarkon illustrates wonderfully how cooperation between many bodies yields great results.”