Transport Minister Miri Regev is promoting the idea of widening the Trans-Israel Highway with another route that will serve as a designated route for cooperative travel and public transportation. The Ministry of Transportation does not rule out the possibility that the construction of the separate lane will be through a tender, so that the lane will be built and operated by another concessionaire from the current concessionaire of the road. The ministry mentions in this context the highway project, which was paved along Road 1 from the Shafirim Interchange to Ayalon Lanes.
The idea of establishing a cooperative and public transportation lane follows Regev’s initiative to reduce the cost of the subscription fee on the road by tens of percent. The reduction initiative has provoked opposition from the Ministry of Finance, which has claimed that it will lead to an increase in demand for road travel, which already suffers from severe traffic congestion problems. Sources in the transportation industry told “Globes” that negotiations are underway between the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transportation, the state-owned Trans-Israel Highway Company and the franchisees are at a dead end at this stage.
Attempt to reach a new agreement with the franchisee
Legally, the franchisee cannot be forced to reduce the subscription fee because this is a change in the terms of the franchise bill granted to him in 1999. Against this background, Regev is trying to reach a new franchise agreement with the franchisee. The government body authorized to negotiate a new concession agreement is the Accountant General’s Division of the Treasury, which granted the original concession for the construction and operation of the road for 30 years.
Regev proposes an outline in which tariffs for road subscribers will be reduced by tens of percent, at a rate varying around the clock and in return the Derech Eretz concession will be extended by three years until 2032. In addition, Regev proposed that the state allow the concessionaire to establish a fourth lane. The cost of building the fourth lane from the Kesem interchange to the Iron interchange is estimated at NIS 2.5 billion, and Regev wants the concessionaire to finance the project himself, assuming that he will return the investment through the increase in road traffic. Regev claimed that the toll collected by land is one of the highest in the world and that passengers on the road do not have an alternative means of transportation to the toll road and therefore are a captive public. Alternative means of public transport to the toll road will be available to passengers only at the end of the decade when the eastern railway track is completed.
According to sources in the Ministry of Transport, “The minister wants to promote transportation alternatives for young couples who have difficulty finding affordable housing in the center and are forced to purchase apartments in the periphery. According to the same sources, “a cooperative travel lane drops the ground under the argument that lowering the toll on the use of the road will lead to an extension of the traffic jams on it.”
Value of NIS 2.66 billion
The Trans-Israel Highway was established by Derech Eretz Highways, the company that won a tender in 1998 issued by the Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance for the construction of the main section of the 87-kilometer-long road. In the years 2010-2012, Africa Israel, Shikun VeBinui and Canadian Highway sold their shares in Derech Eretz and the state also sold its rights to 49% of the profits in the project. The most expensive deal that Shikun VeBinui made in 2012 reflected Derech Eretz with a value of NIS 2.66 billion. The shareholders who purchased the project are institutional investors incorporated under two limited partnerships led by infrastructure funds. Tashi Derechim Partnership, headed by the Israel Infrastructure Fund (which holds 75% of the shares) and the Trans-Israel Ornamental Partnership, headed by Keren Noy, which holds the remaining 25% as well as 49% of entitlement to dividends and owner loans.
Derech Eretz’s franchise will expire in 2029 and then it is committed to returning the road to the state. The Trans-Israel North road, the first section of which opened in November 2018, is a 21-kilometer section of the Yokneam junction that was established and operated by the Shafir Group, which won a 34-year concession from the state in 2013.
*The article has been translated based on the content of Source link by https://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1001344151
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