Highway 6 (Israel)

Highway 6 (Israel)

Israeli Highways routebox


highway= 6
hebrew=
*כביש חוצה ישראל ("Kvish Ḥotze Yisrael")
*כביש יצחק רבין ("Kvish Yitzḥak Rabin")
meaning=
*Cross Israel Highway
*Yitzhak Rabin Highway
length= 123
direction= North - South
classification= Freeway
start= Ma'ahaz (Ma'ahaz Interchange)
destinations=
*Ramla
*Ben Gurion Intl. Airport
*Petah Tikva
*Rosh HaAyin
*Pardes Hanna-Karkur
end=Iron Stream (Iron Interchange)
junctions=
*Sorek Interchange
*Nesharim Interchange
*Daniel Interchange
*Ben Shemen Interchange
*Kessem Interchange
*Nitzanei Oz Interchange
*Baqa Interchange

Highway 6 ( _he. כביש 6), widely known as the Trans-Israel Highway or Cross-Israel Highway (חוצה ישראל), is a major electronic toll highway in Israel. The highway was officially dedicated as the Yitzhak Rabin Highway, though this name is not generally used. It started operations in the 2000s and is being lengthened as construction proceeds on newer sections. As of 2008, parts of it are still under construction.

The aim of the Highway is to provide an efficient north-south transportation corridor in the country while allowing drivers to bypass the traffic-congested Tel Aviv region, located in the center of the country. Thus it is the Eastern-most major highway in Israel, in some places located almost right on the Green Line. Currently Highway 6 is 123 km long, all of which is a freeway. This figure will grow in the next few years as additional segments, currently undergoing statutory approvals and permitting processes, are added to the main section of the road.

Highway 6 is the first Israeli BOT road constructed, carried out mainly by the private sector in return for a license to collect tolls on the highway for a given number of years. It is also one of the largest infrastructure projects undertaken in Israel in recent years.

Unique characteristics and pricing

Highway 6 uses a system of cameras and transponders to toll vehicles automatically. There are no toll booths, allowing Highway 6 to be designed as a normal freeway with interchanges. A radio antenna detects when a vehicle with a transponder has entered and exited the highway, calculating the toll rate. For vehicles without a transponder, an automatic license plate recognition system is used. Monthly statements are mailed to users. Highway 6 is based on the technology of the 407 ETR in Ontario, Canada.

The pricing scheme for Highway 6 is based on the number of segments a driver passes in a given trip. Each segment is the road span between two interchanges (with one particular interchange being an exception). As of March 2006, the pricing for up to 3 segments is 15.04 NIS, 17.94 for 4 segments, and 20.84 for 5 or more segments. Pricing for motorcycles and heavy vehicles such as trucks is different.

The price above is for drivers who register with Highway 6's operator and install the in-vehicle transponder unit (called a "Passkal", pronounced with emphasis on the "kal", lit. "easy-pass") to record their highway usage. When a vehicle does not have a transponder, its license plate is scanned and the vehicle identified. Drivers who pre-register their license plate with the Highway 6's operator and establish a billing relationship receive a discounted rate (though they pay more than those who have installed a "Passkal"). If a license plate is not located in Highway 6's database then the bill is sent to the owner of the vehicle according to the car registration with the Israeli Ministry of Transportation. Such a vehicle pays the highest rate, 40-80% higher than "Passkal" rates.

The licensed road operator, Derech Eretz, operates a fleet of service vehicles that patrol the entire length of the highway and assist drivers in need. Since it is technically a private road, the road operator is required to pay the police for traffic enforcement.

Financial results and statistics

In March 2006, Derech Eretz reported a profit of 89 million NIS for 2005, an increase of 56% from 2004, on income of 779 million NIS, an increase of 137% from 2004.

At the end of 2005:
* about 500 000 registered subscribers (one subscriber can own multiple vehicles),
* 1.36 million individual users (increase from 1.1 million users),
* 21 million trips,
* 80% of trips are by subscribers,
* Bill collection success rate was 97%.

Controversy

Even as of 2006, various bodies still argue over the necessity of the highway.

Opponents claim that it is does not provide a solution for the overcongestion of traffic at central city entrances, and the country can't afford to invest as much money as it does in a project that does not solve the main traffic problem. Moreover, they claim that existing highways could be expanded for a similar result but lower costs.

Proponents point out the incredible success of the increase in subscriptions, the profit turned, and the anticipated share of profits that will be shared with the government as use continues to increase. The highway's BOT financing ensures reduced government risk.

Opponents' second claim is that the highway further increases the social gap in Israel, giving a privilege to the rich - or, those who can afford to use the highway. It also puts a lot of money taken from citizens in the hands of the few. It also increases the use of private vehicles (as opposed to public transportation), which creates pollution.

Proponents counter with the fact that the highway is more fuel efficient since there are rarely traffic jams, and it is direct with no traffic lights, city traversing, or intersections, unlike most other highways. Contrary to the original 'made for the rich' claims, the cost of using the highway might actually reduce the cost of operating vehicles regardless of social strata. Proponents of the highway claim that the highway's main benefit is allowing drivers to travel from north to south (and vice versa) while bypassing the congested highways in Israel's central region (the central portion of Highway 6 is located on the eastern edge of Israel's central region). This also allows for faster movement of goods and thus decreases shipping costs. Contrary to popular belief, many of Egged's buses travel on Highway 6, and therefore the highway does not discourage public transportation. The use of the highway by the long-range bus routes reduces travel time for passengers, and the marginal cost of operations (gas, wear and tear, depreciation, etc...) for each bus and driver.

Opponents claim that the highway harms the environment in a number of ways - it takes away the natural habitat of some animals and encourages further construction in those areas as land values rise.

Proponents do not disagree that the building of the highway damages the environment, but counter with the extensive investment and care in minimizing this inherent damage. Proponents show that the highway allows more people to live in rural and affordable periphery areas thereby reducing population density in the central area.

Finally, proponents also claim that the highway lessens the number of traffic accidents in Israel, which is relatively high, because it takes many cars off regular, more dangerous and crowded highways, and puts them on the much safer planned and maintained road.

Interchanges

The highway's kilometer count starts at 66, since it includes the planned southern extensions.

External links

*he icon [http://www.kvish6.co.il/ Official website] (English section as well)

* Running on Empty by Yaakov Garb [http://74.125.39.104/search?q=cache:iQqdaaVkZi0J:earthisland.org/EIJOURNAL/new_articles.cfm%3FarticleID%3D321%26journalID%3D69+Yaakov+Garb+earthisland&hl=iw&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=il]


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