The first leg of the NIS 1.2 billion Carmel Tunnels project is expected to open to traffic in April 2010, a year ahead of the project's scheduled completion date, reports www.local.co.il. Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz approved a request by the Carmelton company, which is carrying out the work, to allow the early opening of the 1.6 km eastern leg after touring the site recently. According to the report, work on the massive project has been proceeding ahead of schedule and the eastern section, between the Checkpost intersection and the Ruppin interchange, will be ready to open in April 2010. Excavations in that section are expected to be completed within the next couple of months, and they will be followed by engineering and construction work. The report also says the 3 km western leg of the tunnels, between the Ruppin interchange and the Carmel Beach, will be ready for opening in December 2010. The project was originally slated for completion in April 2011.