Transportation Minister Israel Katz on Thursday said budgetary constraints, traffic considerations and safety issues prevented major renovation work to upgrade Israel’s longest road, where multiple deadly accidents occurred in recent weeks.
Route 90, which runs from Metula in the north to Eilat in the south, has seen 17 people killed and others injured in accidents in the last three weeks. Last Tuesday eight members of one family were killed in a head-on collision near the Dead Sea. On Sunday six Palestinians from East Jerusalem died in a similar crash in the Jordan Valley.
Most of the road is decades old and features only one lane in each direction, with no divider. Its length and characteristics have made it one of the country’s deadliest routes.
Following the recent accidents, calls have emerged for a divider to be installed between the opposing lanes.
But Katz said such demands were “unreasonable” from both a traffic and a safety perspective, noting it would prevent drivers from safely overtaking fellow motorists and encourage reckless behavior.
He said the government was working on paving a highway from Eilat, but that it would take time. In the meantime safety upgrades to the road had been implemented where possible, “but the real solution… is paving wide, safe, fast roads.”
Katz also claimed that some government plans to upgrade sections of the road had been delayed due to Finance Ministry objections, but did not elaborate.