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After a half-year delay, one of the most important access roads to the Trans-Israel Highway will open to motorists next month: Route 7, running between the Gedera Junction and the Sorek Exchange.

This new stretch, which cost NIS 71 million, links southern regions of the country to the Trans-Israel Highway (at the Sorek Exchange). It also provides a quick, direct link between Ashdod, Ashkelon and the surrounding communities with Jerusalem.

Route 7 has two parts, the existing Route 41, which runs between Ashdod and the Gedera Junction, and an entirely new stretch that will connect Ashdod to the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway (at the Latrun Junction).

Paving of Route 7 began in January 2001, and the road was supposed to open to traffic last June. But work was delayed for a number of reasons. Public Works Authority officials claim one of the main reasons for the delay was the discovery of ancient burial grounds, which necessitated changes in the planned route.

Route 7 is not the only new road whose construction has dragged beyond the original timetable. For instance, the release of tender bids for the construction of Route 431 has been delayed for half a year. This is an important road that will allow access to the Trans-Israel Highway for motorists from Nes Tziona, Ramle and Modi'in.

Another road whose construction has been delayed is Route 551, around Kfar Sava. This route is supposed to start around Kibbutz Ga'ash, and link up with the Trans-Israel Highway near Ramat Hakovesh. The route will alleviate heavy traffic congestion in areas between Kfar Sava and Tel Mond. Discussion of the road's construction began in 1994, yet final authorization for paving Route 551 has been delayed.