The Tel Aviv-Jaffa local planning committee approved on Wednesday morning the master plan to cover the Ayalon Highway and build a park on top.
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The plan will create 240 dunams (60 acres) of space above Ayalon while creating continuity between the western and eastern parts of Tel Aviv.
It calls for building a roof above the highway, the Ayalon River and the adjacent rail lines. Bicycle paths, foot paths, green spaces and cafes will be created on the roof, creating a large park close to the city.
The project will cost an estimated 2 billion shekels ($518 million), making it one of the biggest local construction projects in Israel.
The Ayalon is one of central Israel’s most important arteries, carrying an average of 750,000 vehicles a day. Together with the rail lines alongside the road, the Ayalon generates air and noise pollution that reduce the quality of life in the adjacent areas.
The project aims to address these issues while creating continuity for pedestrians and bicycles on Tel Aviv’s main east-west roads, such as LaGuardia and Levinsky.
The covered portion is planned to stretch from Yarkon Park in north Tel Aviv to Ariel Sharon Park (the former Hiriya garbage dump) south of the city limits.
The plan also calls for paying particular attention to the area near the Azrieli Center and the neighboring train station, although that part is still being planned.
The plan was drafted by Lerman Architects and by the Tel Aviv municipality’s planning division.
The Tel Aviv municipality stated in response that covering Ayalon will help in achieving its goals of making the city increasingly accessible via public transport, bicycles and foot traffic, particularly for commuters who enter the city via the public transport options in the area.
A fourth rail line is slated to be laid next to the existing tracks in the area, boosting train traffic even further.
“Covering Ayalon is going from being a dream to reality – step by step, approval by approval,” said Itay Pinkas, a member of the Tel Aviv city council and chairman of the steering committee for the project.