Construction Begins for Tel Aviv Light Rail, Six Years of Traffic Jams Expected

New traffic arrangements will go into effect in Tel Aviv on Sunday, with major roads closed, turned into one-way streets, or designated off limits to private vehicles, as work on the Allenby station gets underway.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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Stuck in traffic, in Tel Aviv's Jabotinsky Street.
Stuck in traffic, in Tel Aviv's Jabotinsky Street. Credit: Nir Keidar
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

Construction of the light rail network in greater Tel Aviv begins Sunday morning, with major traffic jams expected all the way from Netanya to Ashdod until the project is completed in an estimated six years. New traffic arrangements will go into effect in Tel Aviv on Sunday, with major roads closed, turned into one-way streets, or designated off limits to private vehicles, as work on the Allenby station gets underway.

That stop will be an underground station on the Red Line, which will run from Petah Tikva through Bnei Brak, Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv, Jaffa and Bat Yam, and possibly to Rishon Letzion at a later stage. The Allenby station, located at the intersection of Allenby and Yehuda Halevi streets in Tel Aviv, will be built 30 meters underground and run 100 meters long. Construction on that station alone is expected to last four years, and will also include repairs to Yehuda Halevi street, as well as improvements to infrastructure there.

The NTA – the government company supervising public transportation in the greater Tel Aviv area – rented four “park and ride” lots, to encourage commuters to reach their workplaces on public transportation, since several main arteries will be closed to private vehicles. The four parking lots, located at Ganei Yehoshua, Tel Baruch beach, the Moshava stadium in Petah Tikva and Mitzpe Modi’in will also open Sunday. Parking at these lots will cost 15 shekels. Those who park there will have free transportation to Yigal Alon street in Tel Aviv, the stock market compound in Ramat Gan, the Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv, as well as Rothschild Boulevard.

Parking at the Mitzpe Modi’in lot, built earlier this year, will be free of charge, and Kavim company buses will stop there.

Also starting Sunday, the Israel Police is expected to station officers along all public transportation-only lanes throughout Gush Dan, and issue hefty fines to private vehicles caught driving on them. In addition, the Dan bus company is expected to add two new bus lines from the Tel Aviv train station to Rothschild Boulevard and Yigal Alon streets, with more buses and trains will be added to existing lines.

Construction on the light rail line will begin gradually to give the public an opportunity to become accustomed to the changes, and prevent even larger traffic jams. In the coming months, additional work will begin on stations along the underground portion of the Red Line, which is 11 kilometers long. Later this month, construction is expected to begin on four additional stations, at Maariv Junction and at Yehudit Boulevard in Tel Aviv, and at Bialik and Abba Hillel streets in Ramat Gan.

In October, work is expected to begin at Arlozorov and Shaul Hamelech streets in Tel Aviv. In December, construction will begin on stations at the corner of Jabotinsky and Ben-Gurion streets in Ramat Gan, as well as the corner of Jabotinsky and Aharonovich in Bnei Brak. Changes will be made to traffic arrangements in the area.

Israel Police officials estimate that the most significant traffic jams won’t occur for another two months, after the High Holy Days.

During the construction of the Allenby Station, a fence will be erected around the site, complete with windows, to enable passersby to observe the ongoing construction and digging. During that stage traffic islands and street lights will be dismantled and infrastructure relocated as the asphalt is dug up.

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