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Tel Aviv highway exit reopens partially after 2-week closure due to sinkhole

Lanes open to drivers headed south to Hashalom Interchange as of Sunday morning under authority supervision

The Ayalon Highway on October 01, 2022 after a large sinkhole opened on the main highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
The Ayalon Highway on October 01, 2022 after a large sinkhole opened on the main highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A Tel Aviv highway exit shuttered for nearly two weeks following the emergence of a large sinkhole reopened partially on Sunday morning, authorities said.

The Hashalom Interchange exit saw a “limited” reopening Sunday morning at 5 a.m., according to Ayalon Highways, which operates the major intracity freeway in the Gush Dan region.

Following a number of assessments, Ayalon Highways said, it decided to reopen exit lanes for drivers heading south and allow entry to the parking lots of the Azrieli compound, adjacent to the interchange. The company said it would closely monitor the reopening.

Some lanes will remain shut until road safety can be assured, authorities said.

A 15-meter-deep (50-foot) sinkhole emerged on the interchange and was quickly filled in last month. The sinkhole did not cause any injuries despite having occurred on a busy highway. It was allegedly caused by construction work on the nearby Azrieli Spiral Tower, which is slated to become Tel Aviv’s second-tallest building.

Sinkholes can occur when water flowing underground creates cavities that eventually collapse.

A sinkhole on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Ayalon Highway)

Officials had explained that the continued presence of groundwater could present a danger of another collapse, warranting further investigation into the stability of the ground before traffic can resume.

The Solel Boneh building company, responsible for excavation and foundational work for Azrieli Group’s tower, said last month that the hole was “a technical failure.”

The Ayalon Highway is built over the channel of the Ayalon Stream, putting it at a higher risk for sinkholes.

Workers at the site where a large sinkhole opened on the main highway in Tel Aviv, on September 17, 2022 in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While sinkholes are relatively rare in the center of the country, a man was killed in July when a sinkhole opened underneath a swimming pool during a party at a home in the central town of Karmei Yosef.

Sinkholes have also opened in the Dead Sea region as the water recedes as a result of human activity, as well as climate change.

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