A sheltered existence

There seem to be no specific plans either to preserve or to demolish the shelter.

Old concrete bus shelter at Shimshon Junction (photo credit: SYBIL EHRLICH)
Old concrete bus shelter at Shimshon Junction
(photo credit: SYBIL EHRLICH)
 From 1948 until 1967, the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was blocked at Latrun by Jordan’s Arab Legion. A new road, today the southeastern part of Road 44, bypassing Latrun, was built to join the already existing road from Beit Guvrin, today’s Road 38, thus creating Shimshon Junction (named for the biblical Samson, who is associated with this area). All traffic between the two cities took this detour as there was no accessible alternative.
Bus passengers from either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem wanting to go to the development town of Beit Shemesh (established in 1950) and the surrounding moshavim changed buses at Shimshon Junction, where they waited for their connection. The concrete bus shelter was set back from the road, since it was a terminus and space was needed for buses to turn round.
The Six Day War changed everything. With the reopening of the direct route through what had been no-man’s-land in the area of Latrun, the old bus stop at Shimshon Junction became surplus to requirements. Buses from Beit Shemesh ran directly to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. New bus stops were placed in more convenient locations, alongside roads 38 and 44.
The old concrete bus shelter at Shimshon Junction enjoyed a long and peaceful retirement. It was shielded from the outside world by a small grove of trees.
The population of Beit Shemesh was only around 7,000 in 1961, and 10,000 in 1972 – most of them impoverished immigrants without cars. However, the city has grown massively in recent years, to some 98,000 residents today, and since it is well within commuting distance of both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and is home to large numbers of middle-class residents who drive daily to one or other city, the road infrastructure had become hopelessly inadequate by the beginning of the 21st century, and extensive development work started on Road 38 in 2015.
All the “working” bus stops at Shimshon Junction were moved by a few meters as the construction work led to slight adjustments in the roadways. However, the pre-1967 bus shelter held fast. Piles of earth began to encroach, heavy equipment moved to and fro, but nothing disturbed the historic concrete shelter. The nettles grew high around it, the trees were uprooted, the piles of earth were flattened, and still the ancient relic – bearing inevitable graffiti – is standing, surrounded by heaps of metal and miscellaneous debris.
Is it to be preserved as a historic monument? There seem to be no specific plans either to preserve or to demolish the shelter, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see, one day as I pass on my way to work, that it has gone to the great bus station in the sky. That will be a sad day.