$800-Million Israel Highway Expansion Eyed
The Israeli government is planning an estimated $800-million expansion of the 140-kilometer Cross-Israel Highway, the country’s sole north-south toll road. A joint committee of ministry representatives has issued a request for proposals for two extensions totaling 20.5 km, including 3.7 km of tunnels.
The highway’s original $1-billion segment, designed to allow drivers to bypass the congested Tel Aviv metropolitan area and substantially reduce north-south travel times, opened in 2001.
“This is one of the most important projects in the transport field that the government is currently advancing in cooperation with the private sector,” says Shuki Oren, Finance Ministry accountant general. He says the project is targeted for completion within three years after an agreement is signed with the winning bidder.
The committee issued the RFP for construction and maintenance of the highway as a build-operate-transfer project. The two-stage process calls for a prequalifying stage, with bids due by May 31; a final stage of the tender is set for the first quarter of 2012. Under the terms of the proposed project, the winner will plan, finance, build, operate and maintain the northern extension of the highway for 30 years.
The Israeli Finance Ministry is considering offering grants to the winning bidder because the northern segment is expected to have substantially lower revenue-producing driver volume than the central segment.