Israel is using the coronavirus crisis to up construction efforts
27 April 2020 - The jerusalem post
Many countries have debated whether to keep up construction amid fears of spreading the infection, but Israel, spotting a chance early on in its battle with the outbreak, took the risk.
Roadwork is booming in Israel as construction crews take advantage of empty roads and railways in the time of coronavirus to upgrade the developed world's most congested highways.
Many countries have debated whether to keep up construction amid fears of spreading the infection, but Israel, spotting a chance early on in its battle with the outbreak, took the risk and kept laborers deployed with masks and social distancing.
The government injected over 1 billion shekels ($280 million) into the impromptu campaign and for nearly two months companies have been cramming in the work while the rest of the country is stuck at home. One recruitment campaign is referred to as "Opportunity in the Crisis."
The push to finish projects quickly should have an immense, long-term impact on the economy.
Traffic density in Israel is three times the average among the 36 industrialized countries of the OECD. Commuters lose on average an hour a day in traffic congestion, a hit to productivity that costs about $5 billion a year.
Since increasingly stringent coronavirus restrictions began in February, traffic has dropped about 85%, according to Israel's national roads company. On the eve of the Passover holiday, one of the busiest times of year, Israel was under lockdown and traffic was just 1% of the usual level.
Some of the biggest and most crucial projects, like the final stretch of a new fast train between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem or the expansion of a highway in central Israel, will be finished six months to a year ahead of schedule because building was accelerated.