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Thursday, April 25, 2024
Example of indecision: Bridge not completed for 8 months - Government can't decide between working one Shabbat or closing Tel-Aviv Jerusalem Highway for 1.5 days in workweek

Example of indecision: Bridge not completed for 8 months - Government can't decide between working one Shabbat or closing Tel-Aviv Jerusalem Highway for 1.5 days in workweek
Dr. Aaron Lerner 25 April 2024

To share a "taste" of the cost of kicking cans down the road I am sharing
with you this article which describes a project whose completion involved
working one Shabbat to complete a bridge which passes over the Tel Aviv
Jerusalem Highway.

Such activity on Shabbat was common when the alternative was a major
disruption of traffic during the work week and the project managers shared
with the Government the trade-off: a major disruption of traffic for around
a day and a half in the workweek.

I am not going to suggest that the Government should not opt for the
alternative to Shabbat work.

I am only pointing out that instead of deciding between the two
alternatives, this project has been stuck for eight months.

And it is hardly the only national project stuck by indecision.

We have gone through almost countless committees to decide where to build
the next international airport in the country because there are politicians
who don't want to face the wrath when a decision is made.

The following is a translation of an article from Walla News:

Prepare popcorn: this is how the Ministry of Transportation blocked the railway bridge on Route 1
Udi Etzion Walla News
Last updated: 14.1.2024 / 9:03


On Highway 1 (IMRA: Tel-Aviv Jerusalem highway) stands another monument
weighing tens of tons to the situation: the 431 railway bridge designed to
connect Jerusalem to the Ramla area and Rishon Lezion, which has been
standing for five months [IMRA: now 8 months] just before completion over
one of the busiest roads in the country. NIS 380 million was allocated by
the state for the section between Modi'in and Nesharim and includes the
train interchange designed to transfer the train from the track along road
number 1 to the track along road 431.

On one of the Thursdays last August, the chairman of the railway, attorney
Moshe Shimoni, urgently called the railway's CEO at the time, Micha Meixner,
and demanded that the work that was planned to start in a few hours be
stopped on the bridge on Highway 1. The goal was to connect the missing
section with a length of about 20 meters, which necessitates the closure of
the road for safety reasons, over Shabbat when traffic is light, but the
matter was leaked to ultra-Orthodox members of the Knesset, who pressured
the Minister of Transportation Miri Regev to stop the works.

Meixner is one of the highly regarded senior managers that Regev made sure
to move, because he stopped the political appointments on the train. At the
same time, upon her entry into the ministry last year, she dismissed the
respected Shai Kedem, who had grown up in the ministry, and appointed in his
place Avner Flor, a veteran director of the ministry with no experience in
the field of infrastructure, who helped her in preparing the appointment to
the position of the ministry's CEO, Moshe Bo Zaken, the former political
advisor and who that the Civil Service Commission initially refused to
approve his appointment because he lacked professional and managerial
experience in the fields of transportation.

The result: the state of the project only continued to deteriorate. Solel
Boneh, which is controlled by Shikun Ubinuy which is listed on the stock
exchange, claims that the state owes it NIS 100 million for the work on the
project, and has stopped it altogether, including connecting another part of
the long bridge above the interchange, which goes over the drop off from
Highway 1 towards Highway 431.

In 2020, when it began, it was determined that the project would be
completed within 28 months, and that the entire track would be opened for
service in 2026, as one of the important measures to ease traffic congestion
in the center and at the entrance to Jerusalem. The Ministry of
Transportation and the railway deny that the delay of five months so far in
the completion of the bridge will cause a delay in the project, but in the
announcement that the railway recently published about the construction of a
new station in the Ramla project, it has already been set for 2028 when the
track opens.

"There is no other way to finish the work without doing it on Shabbat," says
an official in the infrastructure field. "Just putting the engineering tools
to work takes hours, so there is no time to do it in several consecutive
nights. And closing Highway 1 in this section for a day and a half in the
middle of the week will create huge traffic jams for hours on Highways 443
and 431."

In response to "Walla Auto"'s request in October regarding the possibility
of taking advantage of the large decrease in traffic at the beginning of the
war to close the road and quickly carry out the work even in the middle of
the week, the Ministry of Transportation stated that "we are not dealing
with this right now."

This week the response changed, although the Ministry of Transportation and
the Railways still refuse to reveal how the bridge will be completed: "The
431 track project is extremely complex from an engineering point of view and
includes aspects of tunneling, extensive bridging carried out using
innovative methods, construction of new stations and work in close proximity
to population centers and national infrastructures," the ministry said. "The
Israel Railways manages all aspects of the project, as well as the many
implementation challenges in it, in the best possible way, even during the
war. As for the contractor Solel Boneh, there are indeed delays on his part
in some of the execution segments under his responsibility, which are
handled by the railway in order not to harm the entire project. There is no
reason for claims regarding any financial debt to the contractor."

It was reported from Solel Bohen that the state owes NIS 100 million for the
ongoing work on the project.
IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis

Since 1992 providing news and analysis on the Middle East with a focus on Arab-Israeli relations

Website: www.imra.org.il

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