Time To Build Highways Underground?


Hundertwasser- Austrian architect, artist, environmentalist- proposed green and aesthetic solutions for highways and byways. His sketches of underground highways lined by trees to filter out noxious chemicals, also showed such a concept could minimize noise and maximize land use. Judging by the rate of the country’s expansion, Israel could use a little bit of his vision right now. The tiny country compared in population density to the Netherlands, is growing in a rapid rate. That means more autos on the already packed streets.

A politician and her geologist husband (he built the Mount Scopus tunnel in Jerusalem) in the city of Ra'anana, near Tel Aviv, are against the planned new Road 531, which would connect their city Ra'anana to Herzliya. They suggest that the city build the road and the planned railroad track, underground. Dr. Tsali Polishook, the geologist husband has been involved in planning other tunnels in Israel, and has already prepared a preliminary plan for a tunnel and presented it to the mayors of Herzliya and Ra'anana. The couple also hope to enlist local residents for their cause.

In a recent Haaretz report Polishook says, "Tunnels would decrease noise and the air pollution, and would prevent the creation of a large barrier between the cities that causes great damage to the landscape. This would also save in compensation payments for decreased property values. Tunnels will save extensive amounts of land, which totals 4,500 dunams under the current plan. With the tunnels, only about 900 dunams would be used."

As for the economic cost, Polishook estimates the tunnels would cost NIS 2.7 billion, about what the current plan would need. That sum does not include further benefits - including the lesser compensation sums for neighboring landowners, and the use of the land under which the tunnel runs. We should add to this, of course, the decreased medical expenditures of people who will not become ill from air pollution exposure. Polishook is convinced all this makes the tunnel worthwhile. ::Haaretz