Deadly Highway to Be Widened Starting Next Year

Route 65, one of Israel's most deadly single-lane highways - on which 30 people have been killed in 22 accidents over the last five years - is to be widened, Haaretz has learned.

"Work will begin next year to widen Route 65 into two lanes in each direction, from the Golani junction to Kadarim, and to widen Route 85, from Kadarim to the Amiad junction," Micha Goldman, director of the Israel National Roads Company (formerly the Public Works Department), told Haaretz recently.

Plans are also to be completed, simultaneously, for the stretch of Route 65 that extends south from the Golani junction to Afula, he said.

In 2011, work is scheduled to begin on other stretches of Route 65: between the Golani junction and Dovrat, and from there to the Balfouria junction on the Afula bypass road.

"It is impossible to ignore the fact that Route 65 suffers from 20 years of neglect," Goldman said. "This is a 'red highway' [where many deadly accidents occur]; almost no week goes by without an accident occuring. If you look at the statistics on the number of people killed, you'll understand why it's classified as 'red'. We have to speed up the work."

Haaretz has reported that from mid-2004 to mid-2009, 30 people were killed in 22 car accidents on just a 33-mile stretch - between Dovrat-Nin in the south and Nahal Zalmon in the north - most of them in head-on collisions. Aside from some limited repairs at a few junctions, nothing has been done to improve the safety of the road.

Route 65 begins at the Caesarea interchange on the coastal highway and continues east to Wadi Ara, then crosses Afula and Kfar Tavor, continues north to the Golani junction and ends at Kadarim.

From the coast to the Afula exit, the highway has two lanes in both directions. But north of Afula, it narrows to just a single lane in each direction, with the exception of a few sections of several hundred meters each - this despite the fact that the road is a major artery from the center of the country to the upper Galilee, with a large volume of traffic in both directions.

Police accident investigators call the road "unforgiving," meaning that any human error or traffic violation is likely to end in a serious accident.

Similar plans to widen Route 90 from Yesod Hama'aleh to Kiryat Shmona are to be completed during the Sukkot holiday in October, and will turn the section from Amiad north into a double-lane highway in each direction.

Goldman pointed out that "Route 6 [the Trans-Israel highway] makes an important contribution to the outlying areas, but is an insufficient [solution] without widening the roads to the eastern and upper Galilee. This is a two-year effort which will strengthen the Galilee by bringing it closer to areas [with] employment [opportunities], and strengthen tourism as well. The amount of time it takes to reach the center of the country will be shortened by 30 to 45 minutes," he said.