Expanded Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway Still Jammed Six Months After Expansion

Opening of tunnels, bridges, new lanes didn’t reduce traffic as improved Route 1 highway drew drivers from other roads

Route 1 highway, linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, plagued by traffic jams, October 17, 2017.
Gil Cohen-Magen

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz is weighing the option to allow drivers on the recently expanded Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway to use the shoulders during rush hour.

After added lanes to Route 1 failed to ease the traffic jams six months after their completion, the minister ordered Netivei Israel, the national transportation infrastructure company, to assess such a move in the section between Latrun and Sha’ar Hagay, near the entrance to Jerusalem. The company sent a crew to assess the suitability of the shoulders to handle the traffic.

Route 2, the coastal highway, allows public transportation on the shoulder in the direction of Tel Aviv during rush hour, restricting speeds there to 50 kph.

Observers fear using the move will both sacrifice the safety advantage of an open shoulder and fail to relieve traffic, which has shown to be a bottomless pit.

The Route 1 project cost 2.35 billion shekels ($670 million), including the Harel tunnels and pair of bridges replacing the ascent to the Kastel. A third lane in each direction was added along a 16.5-kilometer stretch between Sha’ar Hagay and the capital’s entrance. Katz said when it opened that it would cut travel time between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to “30-something minutes,” but instead it drew traffic from Route 443 and other routes, leaving commuters with the same headaches.