November 30, 2010
The Carmel Tunnels open, giving vehicles the chance to drive across Haifa in eight minutes, compared with the 30 minutes required in even good traffic conditions.
The tunnels — one set running for 2 miles from Carmel Beach to the Rupin Junction in the center of the city and the other stretching from the junction to the Check Post on the other side of Mount Carmel — are the longest in Israel. Once construction began in earnest, they took three years and 1.5 billion shekels (about $420 million) to build.
The company that built the Carmel Tunnels, Carmelton, has a contract to operate the tunnels for 32 years before transferring control to the government. Carmelton hopes to recoup its investment within 15 years by charging tolls of 5.70 shekels (about $1.60) per private vehicle, 28.50 shekels ($8) per commercial truck and 17 shekels ($4.80) per public transit vehicle.
The tunnels are an infrastructure project first envisioned during the British Mandate. Thanks in part to bureaucratic delays, they open 13 years after a ceremony inaugurating the project. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also held power when the project began, says the tunnels are part an overarching plan of highways and railroads meant to revolutionize Israeli transportation.