A Bridge Too Low

The lives of drivers in Tel Aviv became intolerable for two weeks in August when the entrance to the Ayalon freeway at the Halacha interchange, one of the city's busiest, was closed, forcing drivers to travel on the overloaded Namir road or to search for more creative ways to get across the city.

One might assume the work in progress was for widening or improving the interchange - but no, it was to correct a major engineering snafu. The pedestrian bridge built to connect the central train station (Savidor) with the train platforms turned out to be lower than the rest of the bridges over the freeway and was therefore a traffic hazard and a safety risk.

Attempts to find out who was responsible for this engineering failure - which cost NIS 3.5 million to rectify - were fruitless. The architectural firm that designed the bridge denied responsibility, saying the authorities - namely Netivei Ayalon and the Transport Ministry - set the height of the bridge.

Netivei Ayalon people said the bridge was planned to the height required at the time, and furthermore, there were two other bridges of similar height on the freeway. These were no problem because they are massive structures that could withstand being hit by a truck with an oversized load.

A pedestrian bridge is, of course, a different matter. "Trucks had been hitting the bridge, shaking it and endangering pedestrians," said an Israel Railways source, explaining why it ordered the road lowered.