West Bank: USAID launches $12 million road reconstruction program
The American government launched an ambitious $12 million road reconstruction program Friday to improve commerce and traffic between West Bank communities.
The road renovation project is one of the development projects that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is accelerating as a sign of America's commitment to support the current Palestinian leadership.
In consultation with the Palestinian Ministry of Planning and the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, seven key roads totaling 38.5 kilometers were selected for reconstruction. The project will benefit more than 200,000 people and create new employment opportunities for an estimated 500 Palestinians. The reconstruction work will require about 20,000 person-days of employment.
"These roads will be designed and constructed by local Palestinian engineering and construction firms to the highest quality standards," said Alvin Newman, Director of USAID's Infrastructure Office. "We hope that they will be a lasting example of cooperation between the American and the Palestinian people. "Palestinians often tell us that watching the construction of a beautiful new road is one of the best morale boosters in the world because roads augur good things to come in the future," he added.
The Palestinian Ministry of Planning gave top priority to repairs on the Qalandia-Al Bireh road, which is heavily trafficked by people from all over the West Bank and is the main entry into Jerusalem. The road passes through a low area and is often badly flooded during the winter months. Currently, it is in terrible condition and in need of urgent reconstruction.
USAID plans to turn the Qalandia-Al Bireh route into a showcase road, with storm water control, improved utilities, sidewalks and beautification elements. The roads project should be in full swing by late May when reconstruction of the road between Kharas and Soureef is scheduled to begin.
Contractors who have been chosen to implement the projects, under the supervision of the U.S. engineering firm CH2M Hill, include Al Tariffi, Saqqa & Khoudary, Ocean Contracting and Saqqa & Koudary Joint Venture.
USAID has spent more than $1.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza to combat poverty, create jobs, improve education, build roads and water systems, construct and equip medical clinics, and promote good governance.