Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Transport Minister Miri Regev have formulated a significant budget for the development of roads in Binyamin Council in Samaria, in collaboration with the head of Binyamin Council, Israel Gantz. This is an unprecedented budgetary investment in Judea and Samaria’s road infrastructure, based on plans prepared in recent years. Smotrich is involved in the plan as both Finance Minister and Adjunct Minister in charge of Judea and Samaria in the Defense Ministry.
The most expensive and significant project in the new plan is the expansion of Route 60 from the entrance to Jerusalem at the Pisgat Ze’ev-Hizma junction through Shaar Binyamin, Ofra, and Eli to the Rehelim intersection. The road will be widened to 3 lanes in each direction with one lane in each direction dedicated to public transportation.
Transport Minister Regev has diverted sharply from the path of her predecessor, Labor Chairperson MK Merav Michaeli, who vowed not to spend a penny on roads in the liberated territories.
The Route 60 project is budgeted for more than a billion shekel, and in addition, Highway 45, which is planned to connect Kochav Ya’akov to Atarot (via Qalandia) will be budgeted for NIS 300 million.
According to Binyamin Council, Highway 45 will shorten the road from eastern Binyamin to Route 443 which is the alternative approach to Jerusalem from the flatlands. The new highway is in the final stages of planning, and construction is expected to start soon.
Route 465 from the British Police Station intersection to the Ofarim intersection of Route 446 will also be budgeted for expansion. And a budget will also be allocated for the detailed planning of a road that will connect the settlements of Gush Talmonim to Route 443.
Binyamin Council Head Israel Gantz thanked the new government which he called a friend of the settlement endeavor, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ministers Smotrich and Regev. He added: “We are in the midst of a historic moment. The State of Israel takes responsibility for Judea and Samaria and this is reflected in an investment the likes of which has not been seen since the establishment of the settlement movement.”
The following are the approved roads in Gush Etzion:
Highest priority will be given to doubling the size of the Lev Yehuda Road (Al-Arub bypass), which will take effect immediately. The size increase will contribute greatly to easing the traffic, enhancing security, and reducing road accidents.
It was agreed that there would be a separation of traffic with barriers at the Gush Etzion Junction, which will enter into the planning process.
In addition, approval to double the Husan-Elazar segment (frozen by the previous minister of transportation) has already been granted and work on the road commenced this week.
The stretch from the Lamed Hey checkpoint to the Gush Etzion Junction will also be earmarked as a top priority with statutory regulation and work designed to greatly improve its quality.
The section from the Beitar checkpoint to the Husan intersection will be widened and will get a public transportation lane, reducing road accidents and solving the traffic jam problem significantly, during rush hour.
Eastern Gush Etzion:
The road from the south Efrat junction to the Amos Junction (the T-junction) will also be listed as a top priority for the planning of statutory regulation and improvement.
Road 365 (connecting to Road 3157)
Plans on the road from Metzad to the Amos Junction (the T-junction), will be submitted for approval.
Plans for the stretch from the Amos Junction to the Mazmoria crossing will also be entered for planning, regulation, and upgrading.
The Mayor of Gush Etzion and Chairman of the Yesha Council, Shlomo Ne’eman said: “Shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh (He has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season). This is huge news for residents of Gush Etzion and the whole region.
I am glad to announce a real revolution in our transportation department. Our long and hard work, and that of other special people, has paid off greatly and successfully with the approval of road development plans worth unprecedented sums.”
Ne’eman added his thanks: “A big thank you to the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, who made these plans a top priority for the sake of the safety of the residents here. I also congratulate and acknowledge the Minister of Transportation, Miri Regev, for her full cooperation that contributed to the success of the process, and for steering the ministry to focus on our area, with G-d’s help.
Many, many people have asked me about the true difference between this and the previous government for our community and with my hand on my heart, I answer that it was worth it just for this! There is a lot more to come.”