Almost 20 years after its inauguration, the Begin Highway project, the largest transportation project in Jerusalem, was fully opened to traffic on the morning of 7 September 2017, with the opening of the Rosemary Interchange and the completion of the Begin South project. The Begin Highway, which was first opened to traffic in the late 1990s, changed the face of the city, becoming a key artery in it.
The Begin Highway was gradually extended over the years, making it possible to cross Jerusalem northbound and southbound without traffic lights. In its final configuration, the highway begins at the Ben-Zion Netanyahu Interchange at the northern end and ends at the new Rosemary Interchange at the southern end, for a total of about 16 kilometers. The Rosemary Interchange, inaugurated this morning, directly connects the Begin Highway (Road 50) with the Tunnel Road (Road 60), establishing entrance southern gateway into Jerusalem.
The new interchange has two levels and a 70-meter tunnel. The upper level, with three lanes in each direction, will serve traffic on Rosemary Street. Its construction included laying the infrastructure for the light rail’s Blue Line. The lower level, with two lanes in each direction, directly connects the Begin Highway to the Tunnel Road. The interchange is expected to greatly mitigate congestion in southern Jerusalem and improve access to the city’s southern neighborhoods, the International Sports Center, Beit Zafafa, the Etzion Bloc, Efrat, Beit Shemesh, and Zur Hadassah.
Photograph: Sasson TIram
Construction of the interchange lasted two years, and met the budget, schedule, and quality of performance prescribed in the design. Construction cost NIS 140 million (out of a total budget of NIS 1.25 billion). The project was chosen as an outstanding infrastructure project by the Israeli Association of Construction and Infrastructure Engineers and as project of the year by PMI's project management competition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The Begin Highway is a fast and accessible arterial route, along with the other roads that we are building and moving quickly to pave. It is a key element for the development of Jerusalem. The Rosemary Interchange completes the huge Begin Highway project. It is a blessing not just for Jerusalem, but for all its suburbs. The road to the Etzion Bloc is shortened and thousands of residents can go to and from Jerusalem more easily. This is one of the many examples of the huge transportation revolution that we are leading. It is achieving the vision for connecting Israel – shorter roads, elimination of the periphery, intercity connections, and shorter roads between cities.”
Minister of Transport and Intelligence Israel Katz said that this was the largest transportation project undertaken in Jerusalem in recent years and that it has changed the traffic reality in the city. “The Begin Highway in southern Jerusalem is equivalent to the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv. The highway is good news for all of the residents of Jerusalem, the Etzion Bloc, Efrat, Zur Hadassah, Beitar, and all the residents of Jerusalem’s southern neighborhoods, including Gilo, Har Homa, Beit Zafafa, Arnona and others. It is another element in the transportation revolution that the Ministry of Transport is pursuing nationwide, including in the big metropolises. This is a project which will contribute to the development of all Jerusalem and will improve traffic flow in the capital. It will also allow the transfer of intercity traffic from Jerusalem’s streets to the Begin Highway, thereby greatly reducing air pollution.”
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that completion of the Begin Highway project turns Jerusalem into the leading city in transportation infrastructures, as is worthy of the capital of Israel. The highway makes it possible to cross the capital from south to north without traffic lights, greatly easing traffic in the southern part of the city and connecting it to the city center and north, benefiting the residents. “The residents of Jerusalem and its environs are pleased that the highway greatly shortens their commute to work and home. The highway is a multibillion-shekel joint project of the Ministry of Transport and the municipality, which improves the quality of life of the residents of Jerusalem and its environs. We intend to continue developing the city’s transportation infrastructures by continuing to establish new light rail lines, extending the current line, upgrading the entrance to the city, and more.”
Doron Neuwirth, CEO of the Moriah Corporation for the Development of Jerusalem, said, “The Begin Highway project is a historic milestone for Jerusalem and for Moriah, which is carrying out the project, and which has been a part of the project since the laying of the first cornerstone in the 1990s and through its completion today. The highway’s big contribution is expressed in the great improvement in the traffic flow in both directions between the northern and southern parts of the city, the reduced traffic loads, increased accessibility to the city’s southern neighborhoods and the direct connection to the suburbs of Jerusalem. The completion of the Begin Highway also creates potential for the construction of thousands of housing units in metropolitan Jerusalem. This is another key element in the infrastructures, roads and traffic development revolution that Jerusalem has undergone in the past few years. Despite the project’s complexity, Moriah completed it while meeting the predetermined schedules, budget and quality of performance.”
Photos: Visual Elements