Tel Aviv Light Rail Work to Bring Chaos to Central Roads, Police Warn

Traffic problems expected to stretch 70 kilometers, from Netanya in north to Ashdod in south; work begins on Sunday

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Construction work on the light rail in Tel Aviv in 2009.
Construction work on the light rail in Tel Aviv in 2009.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Construction of the Tel Aviv light rail will lead to major traffic jams not only within the city but throughout much of the center of the country, the police and firm building the railway warned Monday.

Professionals involved in the railway, which will be built partly above ground and partly underground, predicted that the traffic jams would extend as far as Netanya in the north (30 kilometers from Tel Aviv), Ashdod in the south (40 kilometers) and Modi’in in the east (38 kilometers).

Work is slated to begin on an underground train station this Sunday, at the corner of Allenby and Yehuda Halevy streets in Tel Aviv. Work on other stations will commence over the coming months.

Altogether, the plans call for 10 underground stations between Em Hamoshavot Road in Petah Tikva and Herzl Street in Tel Aviv. Building these stations will require closing off main arteries and major intersections, forcing cars to take detours and buses to alter their routes.

The first line will run from Petah Tikva to Bat Yam. The line is not expected to open before 2021, at the earliest.

Under an agreement between the government, the police and NTA – the company building the railway – various steps will be taken immediately, in an effort to ease the expected traffic jams. These include building additional parking lots for park-and-ride services, beefing up public transportation, widening dedicated bus lanes and adding new ones, tougher enforcement of the law against private cars using bus lanes, organizing detours around the work sites and having more police directing traffic.

At the press conference, police officers urged people to either take public transport to and from the city or use the park-and-ride service. They also warned that any private car caught in a bus lane would be fined the maximum amount permitted by law.

“We’re treating this roadwork like an operation – exactly like a visit by the pope or the president of the United States,” said Brig. Gen. Yoram Ohayon, deputy commander of the Tel Aviv District police. “Switch to public transportation. It will be easier to get to Tel Aviv and to move about inside it that way,” he added.

Israel Railways plans to boost its train service during rush hours in an effort to accommodate the expected surge in public transport users.

In addition, police will create a special force comprising 160 officers that will be dedicated just to the light rail project. Some of these cops will be permanent new recruits to the police, while others will be temporary, paid by the hour. The new force will be headed by an officer with the rank of brigadier general.

The police will also increase staffing at its Tel Aviv control center, which will be transformed into a hotline for complaints about the light rail project.

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