Highway 90 (Israel)
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Route 90 is the longest Israeli road, at about 480 km, and stretches from Metula and the northern border with Lebanon, along the western side of the Sea of Galilee, through the Jordan River Valley, along the western bank of the Dead Sea (making it the world's lowest road), through the Arabah valley, and until Eilat and the southern border with Egypt on the Red Sea. The central section of the road traverses the West Bank, though while it passes near the city of Jericho, it does not enter areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. There are two checkpoints which separate this central section of the road from the northern and southern sections that are located inside the Green Line.
The section of route 90 passing through the Jordan Valley was dedicated as Derekh Gandi (Gandhi's Road) after the late Rehavam Zeevi, an assassinated Israeli Minister of Tourism, who was nicknamed after Mahatma Gandhi.
The section of Route 90 passing the Dead Sea is named Dead Sea Highway, and it is this location that is the lowest road in the world. It is along this stretch of road that Masada, Ein Gedi nature reserve, Ein Gedi Spa, Qumran Caves, and Ahava (company) are located.
The section of Route 90 passing through the Arabah is named Arava Highway.
Until the 1960s, a series of separate roads existed where the highway is today. After the Six-Day War, a section in the northern Dead Sea area was completed, making these roads contiguous. In the early 1980s, the road was assigned the number 90. The northernmost section of the highway, from Tiberias to Metula, is the oldest, having existed since the Ottoman period.
The Arava Highway is the main link from the resort and port city of Eilat towards the center of the country and at times handles a heavy mix of local, tourist and commercial trucking traffic on the two-lane road (one lane in each direction). That, coupled with the monotone nature of the desert landscape around it and the lack of a physical barrier between the opposing lanes of traffic makes the road particularly prone to traffic accidents, which often occur at high speeds. Due to this, the National Roads Company is widening and reconstructing in stages a total of 170km of the road through the Arabah to a four lane configuration with a physical barrier in the middle. The total cost of all stages of this widening effort is NIS2.3 billion (equivalent to over US$650 million). As of the fall of 2013, 40km of the highway just north of Eilat have been widened.
The Arabah section of the proposed Railway to Eilat, if and when built, will be located nearby the Arava Highway in many places along the route.
There is no actual four-way intersection with Route 1. When traveling south along 90 from the Jordan Valley, the road intersects the eastern end of Route 1 at Beit HaArava Junction. Route 90 continues by making a left turn at the junction, then again turns south. A short distance later, Route 90 continues via a right turn at Lido Junction.
Attempts to block
While in Israel blocking a route is a criminal offense, some attempts to block the road had been made during the recent years.
- During March 2011 Israeli social workers' demonstrations, an attempt was made to block route 90.
- On April 2011, a group of a few dozen right wing cyclists attempted to board on the road on route to Nablus. The demonstration was stopped by the border police and the military near an entrance by Lt. Col. Eisner.
- On 14 April 2012, a group of approximately 200 cyclists tried to board on the road and were stopped by Lt. Col. Eisner. The incident become an international scandal resulting in Eisner being suspended.
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- "כביש 90 - כביש הערבה" [Highway 90 - Arabah Road project page]. National Roads Company of Israel. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- http://www.hakolhayehudi.co.il/?p=7534 demonstration poster