Israel's Transport Ministry is studying a plan to build a new port in the Red Sea city of Eilat. The so-called Southern Gateway project would involve closing the existing port at the southern end of the city and digging a canal along its northeastern edge adjacent to the border with Jordan. The cost of the project is estimated at over $3 billion.
On March 12, the Transport Ministry issued a request for information from interested parties to examine the feasibility of the huge project. Plans call for the construction of a canal that would be 100 meters wide and four kilometers long.
"The Southern Gateway project will change the face of Eilat and provide a solution for the overcrowding at Israel's Mediterranean ports of Ashdod and Haifa," says Transport Minister Yisrael Katz.
The project is part of an Israeli effort to turn Eilat into a hub for international trade between Asia and Europe, offering an alternative route to the Suez Canal. As part of that effort, the Israeli government already has approved construction of a rail line from the Mediterranean to Eilat. The cost of the two-track line is estimated at $2 billion.
Once financing is arranged, the project is expected to take five years to complete. The Israeli government has set up a team to consider three options for financing the rail project: public funding, a private franchise or an agreement with another government.