In September, the first of two stages in the closure of Allenby Street in Tel Aviv will be implemented, so that work can commence on the Purple Line of the Tel Aviv light rail. Each day 180 buses pass every hour along the public transport lanes in this, one of the city's main thoroughfares. From here buses run to the entire Tel Aviv metropolitan area from Bat Yam to Petah Tikva and closing the street will cause major traffic disruptions through the region for both cars and bus passengers.
Work is already underway at Opera Square at the northeastern end of Alleby Street where it meets the seafront. From September the section of Allenby Street between Pinsker and King George Streets will be closed with well-used bus routes to the Carmelit terminal rerouted via Geula, Montefiore and Ahad Ha'am Streets. More far reaching changes will be implemented in November when the section of Allenby Street between King George to Levinsky Streets will start being closed in stages.
The closure was postponed from April until November because the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality refused to permit closing the street until the light rail Red Line starts operating. As of today, there is still a question mark as to whether the light rail will begin running in November.
According to the plan, buses currently traveling from Aliyah Street into Allenby Street and the center of the city will be rerouted along bus lanes on Rothschild Boulevard and Ben Zion Street to King George Street. In the opposite direction buses running south will either be rerouted via Yehuda Halevi Street or Rothschild Boulevard - the municipality has yet to decide.
Even after the work is completed, the bus routes won't return to Allenby Street, which will be dedicated to the light rail and undergo major renovations and upgrading, which should benefit local businesses and real estate ventures, which will suffer badly until then.
Meanwhile the businesses along Allenby Street will receive no compensation whatsoever. The municipality blames the Ministry of Finance which is opposed to such compensation, although businesses will be exempt from certain levies. The municipality insists that in the long-run businesses will greatly benefit from the enhanced public spaces as has been proven in Jerusalem's Jaffa Road.
The work along Allenby Street is due to be completed by 2026, although the contractors have notified the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that they are committed to completing the work by August 2027.
Allon Sigler who was until recently transport planner for the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality said, "Many times people forecast catastrophe but in the end the city learns to get by - the question is how. In the original plan, they didn't want to disrupt traffic so they put the Purple Line along a public transport route. But they didn't think about on what other route they would put the hundreds of buses.
"Ultimately the project (Purple Line) will be good for Allenby Street and create opportunities for quality public spaces. It will link together Kfar Shalem and the Yad Eliyahu neighborhood to the city center and that's excellent. But outside of Tel Aviv there are stations near major highways, sometimes through widening the road, and that will make access for pedestrians difficult. Tel Aviv is ahead of the rest of Israel relatively speaking but there is a lot to be envious of and to be learnt from other cities in the world."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 13, 2022.
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