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Highway 60 (Israel): Wikis

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The Israeli symbol for Route 60
Tunnel and armoured bridge to Gush Etzion below Gilo.

Route 60 (Hebrew: כביש 60‎) is a north-south intercity road in Israel that stretches from Beersheba to Nazareth. After heading north from Beersheba, the road runs through Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Afula, ending in Nazareth.

The route is also known as the "Route of the Patriarchs" (Hebrew: דרך האבות‎) since it follows the path of the ancient highway that runs along the length of the central watershed, and which prominently figures into the travels of the Biblical patriarchs.

From its junction with Route 40 in Beersheba to the city's outskirts, Route 60 is a dual carriageway with at-grade intersections. While it continues on to serve as the main north-south artery in Judea, it is a two-lane, shoulderless road until past Hebron at Gush Etzion Junction, where it regains its lane-separation until short of Bethlehem, that section having recently been widened. Upon entering Jerusalem, its lanes are again mostly separated as it serves as a central artery in the city center. In the northern quarters it becomes a separate grade freeway with multiple interchanges, from where it continues through the central and northern West Bank as a two-lane road, not being divided again until the stretch between Afula and its terminus in downtown Nazareth.[1]

Due to it running through a mainly rural setting, many of the junctions along its route feature hitchhiking posts called trempiadas.

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Highway 60 in Jerusalem

Within Jerusalem, Highway 60, known by the municipality as the TalpiotAtarot route or "Road 1", is the central north-south artery running through the city centre. From the southern city entrance near Gilo through Talpiot to its junction with Emek Refaim street at Abu Tor as "David Remez" street, it is divided with multiple lanes and is known as "Hebron Road" (Hebrew: דרך חברון‎). This section has undergone recent construction to include a dedicated bus lane, and infrastructure is being laid for its eventual conversion into a line of the Jerusalem Light Rail. From there it runs underneath the Jaffa Gate square and briefly overlaps Jaffa Road, where it enters a new set of tunnels bypassing the walled city, resuming northward as a divided street. Now called Haim Bar-Lev Boulevard, it runs between Meah Shearim, the American Colony, and French Hill, until Meinertzhagen junction, where it becomes a separate grade freeway. As a freeway, it interchanges with Highway 1 at Sha'ar Mizrah, and then bypasses Shuafat with one of the longest and highest bridges in the country to feed into Beit Hanina and Pisgat Ze'ev with two more interchanges, where it enters an intersection near Neve Yaakov, finally exiting the city near Kalandia.

Bypass roads

Before the Oslo Accords, Palestinians lived under Israeli authority and could travel freely on the road. After the Palestinian Authority assumed control over various cities, Israel established checkpoints on areas of the route which entered Palestinian jurisdiction. New routes of highway were paved so that Israeli traffic could bypass the Palestinian towns in order to reduce friction. These so-called 'bypass roads,' while a contentious issue in their own right due to the varying levels of limitation on Palestinian access during periods of violence, also served as an improvement to the road which allowed traffic to flow around, rather than through the heart of congested urban areas.

One of the more sophisticated segments is the stretch known as the "Tunnels Highway." Designed by a French firm, the route, which leads from southern Jerusalem to the Gush Etzion area, bypasses Bethlehem to the northwest using a pair of tunnels. The northern tunnel, called the Gilo tunnel because it passes under Har Gilo, is 270 metres long. The second tunnel, called the Refaim tunnel based on the nearby Refaim Valley, is 900 m long, making it Israel's longest road tunnel. The tunnels are linked by Israel's highest and longest bridge.[2]

al-Aqsa Intifada

Route 60 was a central scene of violence during the al-Aqsa Intifada, which was in part defined by the thousands of shooting attacks on its Israeli traffic, including hundreds of casualties. The Israeli Army, in response, has fortified various sections with anti-sniper walls and had established checkpoints along the route. The Tunnels Highway came under particularly heavy assault during the shooting on Gilo neighborhood since it lies between Gilo and Beit Jala. The concrete barriers employed on other dangerous stretches of road were too heavy to be supported by the bridge, and so a barrier of bulletproof composite armour similar to that employed on Merkava tanks was constructed.

References

See also

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