Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Carmel Tunnels Project: Israel's Longest Tunnel Dug

Haifa is about to join larger cities such as Tokyo, Paris and Stockholm where underground tunneling helps to reduce ever-growing urban traffic. Project franchisee, Carmelton, has completed digging the westbound tunnel in the eastern portion of the Carmel Tunnels project - a set of road tunnels currently being constructed inside Mt. Carmel - under and around the city of Haifa, Israel.

Amazingly, the idea for the megalomaniac project was originally conceived over 100 years ago by the Turks during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. Today the Carmel Tunnels project is considered the second largest BOT project ever undertaken in the Middle East. The tunnels will have three portals: one from the west, near the MATAM Advanced Technology business park, one in the center off Rupin Road and from the east leading to the Kerayot interchange also known as the "Checkpost". The project aims to connect Israel's Coastal Highway (Road 2) at the southern entrance of Haifa with the northern entrance, bypassing the city center.

The western portal near the the MATAM Advanced Technology business park

The Rupin Road portal

Bridges enter the eastern portal, leading to the Kerayot interchange.

The completed 1,650-meter long westbound tunnel is the longest tunnel ever built in Israel and the most ambitious construction project of its kind ever preformed in Israel. According to Israel's leading financial newspaper "Globes" this is "a historic date" as the link of the first tunnel is "an important milestone toward the opening of the tunnels to traffic within two years."

The Carmel tunnels are built as a BOT (Build, operate, transfer) project so driving in the tunnels will require paying a toll. The project has already gone through many difficulties and was almost terminated more than once. Carmelton has already obtained financing for the project in 1999 but construction was delayed until 2002 due to objections and other legal matters. The project was once again delayed in September 2008 due to the International climbing constructions costs. Eventually, the cost is estimated with 1.25 Billion NIS (approximately $300 million) including 4.7 kilometers of tunnels and 6.5 kilometers of routs altogether.

The Construction of the tunnels began in early 2006 and they are due to be open to traffic by the end of 2010. Above: updated view into the tunnel near the western portal. Here are a few more details from the official Carmelton website:
  • Tunnel height: 6.5 meters
  • Tunnel width: 10 meters
  • The tunnels are dug 100-200 meters under populated areas of Mt. Carmel.
  • Every day 4 additional meters and 2000 cubic meters are dugg using 100-200 trucks
  • Planning took 10 years from 1996 to 2006.
  • Estimated total duration of implementation: 4 years.
  • Concession period: 35 years
  • Time required for crossing Mt. Carmel via the tunnels: 6 minutes (driving 60 KPH)
Here is an Interactive map of the Carmel Tunnels where you follow the tunnel path across the mountain. Below a sketched top-view map and side profile showing the tunnel rout through the mountain. The Mediterranean sea is on the left.

For more see


  1. Maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't drive happily in a 1.6 km tunnel underground.

    If anything happens it's like mice trapped in a pipe...

  2. kinda makes the gaza smugglers tunnels look like child's play! amazing engineering. wow.

  3. cant believe this is actually happening, its like an urban legend coming to life...

  4. Anonymous30.1.09

    This is as amazing as the tunnel going from England to Europe!
    Israel, as always, is creating miracles.
    Bravo Kol Ha Kavot !!

  5. 25 years late! would the capacity be enough 25 years forward


  6. Amazing achievement - this will save drivers a lot of time. Of course, as others have pointed out - by the time it is finished, it will already be obsolete and will quickly be filled to capacity. While I trust Israeli engineering, I would be more concerned with air quality in the tunnel should you be stuck in traffic.

    Re the comment about the Gaza smugglers - the difference, of course, is that these tunnels are meant to improve the quality of life, while the Gaza smuggling is intended to end life...or, if we are "lucky" only corrupt Gazans with more drugs, weapons, etc. Either way, the Carmel tunnel will be an engineering feat and a great improvement. Kol HaKavod to its planners.


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