Many of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods are situated on high mountain ridges and enjoy a panoramic view, with visibility to the Judean Desert and Dead Sea on the east, the Mediterranean Sea and Tel Aviv on the west, and beautiful mountains to the north and south. These neighborhoods are separated from one another by steep-sided “wadis” – valleys that fill with water during winter rains. Throughout its 3000 years of history, Israel’s capital has always presented an engineering challenge.
As the young nation acquired technological sophistication, its engineers designed a network of tunnels and bridges to facilitate commuter, business and tourist traffic to and through this unique area. With our pioneering achievements in civil engineering and specialized experience in Jerusalem, it was natural that Shapir would take a leading role in these innovations.
One of the most challenging assignments was to connect the Jerusalem metropolitan area with its southern neighborhood of Gilo, located on a scenic perch at an altitude of 923 meters across a deep gorge. Together with the other towns in the Gush Etzion region, the 40,000 Gilo residents found road travel to the city center difficult and dangerous, especially in winter weather.
The project entrusted to Shapir was the bridge across the Walaja Valley between Gilo and Beit Jala, which was needed to connect the two tunnels running through the adjacent mountains. The 350-meter structure was built of 94 concrete segments weighing 60 tons each, set in place with a 94-meter gantry crane. Spanning the gorge at a height of 60 meters, it is currently the highest and longest bridge in the mountainous Judean region.