Dear Israeli drivers, we have wonderful news for you. Last week, the national planning and construction council decided, in its great wisdom, not to accede to the environmentalists' demand for investigating alternatives to segment 18 of the Trans-Israel Highway, which is slated to cut through the heart of the Ramat Menashe region.
In the wake of that decision, we at the Transportation Ministry and at the various road-paving companies hope we can bring you via the new road directly into this spectacular region, which some call "the Tuscany of the Middle East."
Instead of walking for hours on foot, sweating in summer and getting soaked by rain in winter, you will soon be able to view the beautiful vistas of Ramat Menashe while seated comfortably in your cars. You will be able to see for yourselves the great consideration we showed for nature in every stream bed we burst through or hill that we sliced in half. We even left a special thruway for animals.
But we're not making do with the Ramat Menashe region. We have plans to bring the residents of Israel closer to many varied vistas. No longer will this scenery be the exclusive preserve of hikers and cyclists. Every driver will be able to get in his car and go out into nature - and to do so via a highway that takes nature to its very bosom.
The Trans-Israel Highway already goes through the area between Ben Shemen in the south and Rosh Ha'ayin in the north, territory which was supposed to become a metropolitan park. From it can see the sun setting into the Mediterranean and the gentle hills of southern Samaria.
In Arazim valley, spanning the entrance to Jerusalem, a new road is nearly finished that will spare drivers the distant view toward the orchards in the valley; they will be able to sense the valley through their wheels. We also hope that a brand new road will pass adjacent to Great Britain Park, south of Beit Shemesh, perhaps even enabling you to get a glimpse from it of a herd of deer gracefully fleeing the noise of traffic.
But let's get back to the Trans-Israel Highway and the bottomless possibilities it offers drivers. We'll pave a cross road linking up with the Trans-Israel Highway, and it will lead straight to the center of Hasharon Park, the largest park in the center of the country. A nature-loving driver will be able to take the Trans-Israel Highway, transit with it through the area that was to have been a park in Rosh Ha'ayin, exit onto a cross-road into Hasharon Park, then return to the Trans-Israel Highway and conveniently traverse Ramat Menashe, in an area that was also to have been a park.
The environmentalists can continue lamenting the destruction of habitats and the chopping up of the ecological system. We have solutions to these problems formulated by the finest experts and landscape designers. We now know how to transplant wild flowers that the road is about to crush and how to rehabilitate the landscape after we've carved it up. We have even developed a method for transforming a quarried site into terraces reminiscent of ancient landscapes. In one place we outdid ourselves, digging and exposing the various rock layers until it became a sort of geological museum. Naturally we took care in various places to leave pathways for pedestrians.
We go by the saying "don't toot your own horn, let others do it for you," so let's turn to an official at the Environment Ministry's planning department, who wrote an article several months ago entitled "Turning dross into green," about environmental planning for the Trans-Israel Highway. This is pure poetry: "Driving along the road, one can note the effort invested in planning and implementation. The land in the area of the road turns green in winter and yellowish in summer, the planted areas integrate seamlessly into the landscape and contribute to the road's integration in the environment. For the travelers on this road, a driving experience is created that opens up new vistas and regions of the country, the thrill of driving through an interesting engineering project on another level."
In the future, we will, of course, continue to take care of the generations of drivers to come and enable them to become acquainted with further regions of the country. You drivers are invited to report to us any blemish you see, from a cigarette butt to the carcass of a wild animal that failed to locate the passageway specially prepared for it. After all, we are here for you and for the environment.
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