10 years after being declared a national infrastructure project, and after prolonged hesitation and examination of alternatives, the National Infrastructure Committee will convene on Monday for a decision on the plan to divert the water flow from the Nahal Ayalon channel in order to facilitate construction of a fourth railway track between the Hagana railway station in southern Tel Aviv and the Tel Aviv University railway station. The new track is needed to handle Israel's growing railway traffic, especially around Tel Aviv.
National Infrastructure Committee planner Nava Alinksy-Radai will present the integrated proposal recommended by the Committee's professional team. Under this proposal, water from upper Nahal Ayalon will be diverted to a pool in empty quarries, some of which are in Natuf, Modi'in, and on the Nesher site. Water will later be pooled in Ariel Sharon Park, with shallow flooding of areas in the northern part of the Mikve Israel agricultural school. At the same time, an underground pipe with a 10-meter diameter will be laid underneath Jaffa leading to the sea using direct push technology.
The National Infrastructure Committee estimates the time needed to plan the project at three years and the cost of carrying it out at NIS 2.1 billion. Israel Railways estimates the cost of the entire project - diverting the river and building the railway line - at NIS 5 billion.
The fourth track will probably be elevated in order to preserve the channel for receiving the surface runoff of the neighborhoods along the track, and for use in emergencies. As of now, there is no clear time estimate, but Israel Railways sources hope that the entire project will be completed in 10 years at most.
The National Infrastructure Committee's recommendation is a compromise between two engineering proposals selected by the professional team. The proposal by the Eldad Spivak firm and former municipal engineer Shamai Asif involves pooling water in Ariel Sharon Park and a pipeline leading to the sea at a cost of NIS 1.8 billion. The second proposal by water engineer Ilan Helbatz involves creation of a relatively deep pool on the Mikve Israel site at an estimated cost of NIS 3.1 billion.
The plan being brought to the Committee is liable to arouse a number of objections, for example by the Mikve Israel agricultural school, Jaffa residents under whose homes the pipeline will run, and perhaps also environmental organizations.
Transportation experts warn that given the rapid increase in the number of railway users, the fourth track in the Ayalon channel can only be a short-term solution. They say that substantial progress in Israel Railways' development plans, such as the high-speed train to Jerusalem, doubling the Tel Aviv-Haifa line, doubling the line to Beer Sheva, and other lines in the advanced planning and implementation stages, are liable to create a railway traffic jam in the Ayalon channel.
Israel Railways is planning to put two underground lines along the Ayalon channel as part of a 26-kilometer tunneling project between Shefayim and Ben Gurion Airport.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 22, 2016
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