“Construction on the light rail has begun and the sky didn’t fall,” Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz said today, as construction on the hyped six-year project took effect.

“We are determined to change the public transport reality, and I’m raising the flag and take responsibility for starting this project, and continuing for six years,” Katz said at a ceremony marking the launch of the excavation work.

Extensive local media coverage of the light rail project has raised fears about traffic snarls into and out of the downtown area of the city during work hours as well as reservations by business owners in the areas of digging about how they’ll survive financially if pedestrians cannot access their establishments.

And, as each tractor breaks earth, residents of the neighborhoods in which the digging is taking place are increasingly suspicious of a looming invasion of rats.

Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz speaks during the launch of construction of the Tel Aviv light rail in Tel Aviv on August 2, 2015. (Photo by Flash90)
Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz speaks during the launch of construction of the Tel Aviv light rail in Tel Aviv on August 2, 2015. (Photo by Flash90)

With parking worries also at a high, the Tel Aviv Municipality has set up park-and-ride lots outside the downtown core that will offer shuttle services to the business areas of the city.

“This is an historical occasion. The [decades long talked about project] has known its ups and downs. But the Gush Dan area is the most populated and it cannot continue like this without proper public transportation,” Katz said. “I’m certain that this project will be carried out as planned and ultimately Tel Aviv will have a leading-edge transportation system like it should be.”