The inter-ministerial tenders committee for the fast lanes project in Greater Tel Aviv has published the tender for the NIS 5.5 billion project, which includes construction of two huge parking lots and a shuttle system. The project will utilize the public-private partnership (PPP) method, used so successfully for fast lane from the Shapirim interchange, east of Tel Aviv on Road 1. The project could remove tens of thousands of cars from the road at the entries to Tel Aviv.
The project is designed to provide drivers with an effective and convenient alternative to waiting in traffic jams at the entry to metropolitan Tel Aviv. The park and ride parking lots will be the largest of their type in Israel, with a total capacity of 11,000 vehicles (4,000 parking places in Rishon Lezion south of Tel Aviv and 7,000 in Shefayim north of Tel Aviv). They will enable thousands of drivers to leave their car in the parking lot and travel to work in a large-scale free shuttle service.
The fast lanes will be reserved for buses and cars with three or more passengers; cars with one or two passengers will be allowed to use the fast lanes only if the lanes are empty. This will promote efficient public transport, and encourage ridesharing to high-demand parts of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.
The project will provide free shuttle services on 10 routes to important business centers in metropolitan Tel Aviv. The project will also include a system of fast lanes in both directions on Highway 2 (the coastal highway) and Highway 20 (Ayalon Highway) from Highway 57 to Rishon Lezion - an aggregate total of 75 kilometers of road. Another part of the project is the construction of Highway 541 from the Shefayim interchange to Ra'anana - a three-kilometer segment.
The fast lanes will be added to the existing lanes, not taken from them. Ayalon Highways Company will expand the roads in the coming years and adapt them to the fast lanes. Infrastructure work on the project, including paying the lanes and building the parking lots, is slated for completion in 2025. Work on paving the special lanes in the first segment in the project between the Hashalom interchange and Wolfson Medical Center on the southern part of the Ayalon Highway will begin soon, and is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
The franchise holders selected in the PPP tender will design, finance, build, operate, and maintain the project for the 10-year franchise period. Six groups that successfully passed the preliminary selection stage will participate in the tender. The groups are composed of local concerns with experience in road and building construction and operation of public transportation and shuttle services under the threshold conditions. The groups are Shikun & Binui Holdings Ltd. (TASE: SKBN) and Egged; Minrav Holdings Ltd. (TASE: MNRV), Metropolitan, Menolead Herut Systems, and Arie Shasha Transportation; Ashtrom Properties Ltd. (TASE:ASPR) and Oron Group Investments and Holdings; Shapir Engineering & Industry Ltd. (TASE:SPEN) and Yamit; Dan Public Transportation and Danya Cebus; and Electra Ltd. (TASE: ELTR) and Ofakim.
The first fast lane in Israel was inaugurated in January 2011 between Shapirim interchange and Tel Aviv. The project is regarded as a transportation success, because it takes thousands of vehicles off congested roads every morning. Transportation experts compare the effect of the fast lane in reducing traffic congestion at the eastern entry to Tel Aviv to that of a railway line costing the treasury and the taxpayers billions. Shapir Engineering, which won the franchise for the fast lane at Shapirim interchange, invested NIS 500 million and paid the state NIS 278 million in royalties in return for revenue from the toll lane during the 30-year franchise period.
Minister of Transport and Intelligence Yisrael Katz said, "This is one of the most essential and important projects in metropolitan Tel Aviv, which will drastically change the transportation situation in metropolitan Tel Aviv. The fast lanes project will serve hundreds of thousands of drivers and passengers daily, and enable drivers to leave their cars outside the metropolitan area, while making optimal use of the other elements of public transportation."
Ministry of Finance Accountant General Rony Hizkiyahu said, "The fast lanes project is designed to ease the traffic load for those entering and leaving the metropolitan center at peak hours. The system of fast lanes and park and ride facilities that will be built in the project, combined with the existing fast lane on Highway 1 and its park and ride facility, will cover all of the main approaches to metropolitan Tel Aviv. This nationally important project joins a series of planned PPP projects in the framework of the 2030 infrastructures plan for infrastructure development in Israel."
Ayalon Highways CEO Itamar Ben-Meir said, "This is an important measure with good news for the public in Israel, and which facilitate changes in driving habits. We are creating an alternative that bypasses traffic jams at the approaches to central Tel Aviv, so that the public can leave private vehicles outside the city and enter metropolitan Tel Aviv on a free shuttle, rapid public transportation, or a shared ride. The aim is to ease the traffic congestion problem in metropolitan Tel Aviv in general, especially on the main arteries there."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 16, 2019
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