The residents of Ashdod are breathing easier this week after the launch of a new system in which the city's truck drivers must park their wagons at the edge of the city and drive home in their cars.

The parking garage, built at the cost of NIS 15 million, sits on just over 10 acres of land and has room for 450 trucks and 120 cars.

According to a bylaw passed by the Ashdod Municipality, trucks are no longer permitted to park within the city. Any drivers parking their trucks in the city will now be issued a warning; a second offense will entail a stiff fine. To avoid fines, the municipality is suggesting that truck drivers buy a subscription pass to the new parking garage. Sources at the municipality say the parking structure will significantly lower air pollution in Ashdod, improve road safety, and ease the city's parking shortage.

Ashdod Mayor Dr. Yehiel Lasry said: "As in many areas in which the city excels in terms of ingenuity and creativity, here too we're breaking new ground and demonstrating immediate- and long-term thinking."

According to Lasry, the new parking structure will help both residents and drivers "to preserve life and quality of life, and also safeguard the truck drivers' source of income."

The Ashdod Municipality says dozens of residents submitted complaints in recent months about rumbling truck motors waking them up in the early hours of the morning. The council also notes that extensive damage has been done to urban infrastructures because of numerous trucks in the coastal city.

The new parking structure also aims to help truck drivers whose vehicles are targets for vandalism and theft when parked in city streets.

The garage has opened for a ten-week free trial, after which drivers will be required to pay for parking. The garage will be equipped with security systems and identification sensors to prevent theft.