Police gear up for gridlock ahead of Tel Aviv light rail construction

On any given day between 500,000 and 600,000 cars enter Tel Aviv.

A woman walks in front of a sign advertising the Tel Aviv Light Rail  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A woman walks in front of a sign advertising the Tel Aviv Light Rail
Days ahead of the launch of construction of the Tel Aviv Light Rail, the city’s police are gearing up for traffic congestion of historic proportions, as major city intersections are slated for closure.
During a briefing with reporters on Monday, Ch.-Supt. Yoram Ohayon, the deputy head of the Tel Aviv District police, described how gridlock from construction of the system’s Red Line from Petah Tikva to Holon will not only cause serious gridlock within Tel Aviv, but will also cause congestion on Route 2 as far north as Netanya, on Route 4 as far south as Ashdod, and east on Route 5 from the Glilot junction to Route 6.
The Red Line is the first of eight planned lines, and will include nine underground stations.
According to Yehuda Bar-On, the general manager of NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd., the company building the rail system, fullscale construction of the line – which will run from the Petah Tikva Central Bus Station to the Bat Yam depot and is slated for completion in fall of 2021 – will begin on Sunday at 10 p.m. with the closure of the junction of Yehuda Halevy and Allenby streets, as well as nearby streets, as workers prepare them for new traffic regulations at the site. Some streets will be opened again, but will be restricted to public transportation.
The beginning of underground construction of the station at Yehuda Halevy is to be followed 10 days later by the closure of the Ma’ariv junction on Carlebach and Menachem Begin streets on August 13th, as workers prepare the area overnight.
After the following weekend, on the 16th at 5 a.m, the area will be closed to all but public transportation as construction begins on the Carlebach station in earnest. As part of the construction of the station, workers will remove the Ma’ariv bridge that spans the intersection, one of the busiest in the city.
A glaring question mark in the plan is the lack of sufficient park-and-ride sites to accommodate commuters entering the city. While police and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said last week that more than 30 such lots were expected to be built, only four are open, with room for only 3,500 parking spaces. Two of these – at Tel Baruch Beach and at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds – are well within the city, meaning that commuters will have to drive into the gridlocked city before they can park. The other two open at the moment are in Modi’in and Petah Tikva. There are none for commuters entering Tel Aviv from the South.
The plan calls for the construction of another 4,500 parking spots and 220 buses to serve commuters, as well as a large-scale increase in the number of public transportation-only bus lanes and increased enforcement against private commuters using them, including the use of more cameras.