Israel Ports Development and Assets Co. Ltd. and its Dutch engineering consultant, Royal Haskoning, have presented the Israeli government with a $6-billion master plan to develop Ashdod and Haifa, the country’s two key Mediterranean seaports, over the next 50 years. The massive investment could be approved in February.

The first stage of the plan includes construction of a 1,000-meter-long, 600-m-wide terminal for very large vessels that would include seven container piers and storage facilities. The cost of the project is about $700 million. The site of the new terminal has yet to be determined, though two options are north of the two cities’ existing port districts. More than 98% of Israel’s foreign trade now passes through the ports and that volume is doubling every 10 years, says Shlomo Brieman, acting CEO of Israel’s state-owned ports firm.

"Port traffic in Haifa and Ashdod is doubling every decade, including more use by neighboring Jordan for its own foreign trade."

Israel Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz plans to have talks in the coming weeks with Jordanian officials on the anticipated port expansion. The Arab nation has substantially increased its use of Israeli ports  for its own foreign trade in recent years.

In addition, Israel’s Finance Ministry has issued an international tender for a major east-west highway project, worth an estimated $700 million, to connect the coastal highway north of Tel Aviv with the country’s new billion-dollar Cross Israel Highway. The build-operate-transfer contract would be the first in Israel to include construction and maintenance of the highway as well as an adjacent rail line. An Israeli government grant is expected to cover half of the project’s cost.

Port traffic in Haifa and Ashdod is  doubling every decade, including more use by neighboring Jordan for its own foreign trade.