The decision about the Tel Aviv metro, the mass transit subway system connecting many cities in central Israel designed as a true solution to the problem of traffic jams in the region, will be delayed by at least another few months, following the dissolution of the current government. The metro is projected to cost NIS 100-150 billion, making it Israel’s largest-ever infrastructure project.
On August 1, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transport to formulate a proposal for creating means of facilitating rapid progress in development of public transportation in metropolitan areas, including the greater Tel Aviv metro. The proposal was to have been submitted by November 1, 2018, but was put off until early 2019, and will not be considered before the upcoming elections.
Government ministries believe that the metro proposal will have to wait until after the elections, and will be submitted to the new government for approval. A government source said, “The plans have already been fully formulated.”
The metro proposal is designed to settle many disputes arising at the stage of depositing the plan for objections by the local authorities. The large number of parties in Israel able to veto a plan is a well-known bureaucratic problem in Israel that prolongs the planning stages for many years. For example, planning of the fourth railway track along the Ayalon Highway took almost a decade.
What land will be expropriated?
NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System, which is responsible for planning the ambitious project, will in any case begin the statutory planning stage in the near future. The bill in question is more relevant to the performance stage. At the same time, it should be emphasized that the state has already set 2030 as the target for completing the project. In order to meet this target, tenders for carrying out the project must be issued in 2019. For that to happen on time, the government must make budgetary preparations – a delicate question that is still open.
Statutory planning of the metro is scheduled to take two years. There is already a target date for its completion – December 2020. The problem is that without a law stating who will have the authority to decide between the local authorities and the metro planners, it will be very difficult to meet this target date. The metro will pass through 25 different local authorities. It might be thought that since the metro is underground, its planning will be easy, but the metro is planned to include over 100 railway stations above ground, which will certainly require land expropriations and more.
Metro trains are physically larger and travel faster than light rail trains. They are suitable for higher demand and greater distances, while light rail trains provide more accessible service for shorter distances. The total length of all of the planned metro tracks is 130 kilometers.
Construction of a metro in crowded greater metropolitan Tel Aviv, which contains 43% of Israel’s population and 50% of its job, is essential. The metropolitan area covers 1,500 square kilometers and constitutes the destination of half of all daily journeys in Israel.
Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on January 3, 2019
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