Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) pressed the lever on Friday morning to detonate the Ma'ariv Bridge in Tel Aviv, clearing the way for a station of the new light rail system now being built in the coastal city.
The new light rail stop to be built on the site of the bridge will be called the Carlebach Station.
While the detonation was scheduled for 6 a.m., it was slightly delayed after two people were found to be hiding in the Ma'ariv Building adjacent to the bridge. They were summarily evacuated from the area.
Hundreds of people arrived to witness the historical event from special stations prepared on the adjacent Carlebach, Lincoln and Yitzhak Sadeh Streets.
Before hitting the switch, Katz said, "in a few moments we'll press the button and the Ma'ariv Bridge will collapse. New history will replace old history."
"The city of Tel Aviv has known painful explosions in the past, that inflicted a heavy toll," he said in reference to past terror attacks. "This explosion symbolizes hope and renewal."
"We are building a new lifeline for the city and the entire metropolis, and realizing a vision of more than 100 years. From today on there's no turning back – until the train bell is heard. I hope and am convinced that this pressing (of the switch) now, which is difficult after nearly 60 years of planning that was not realized, will make lives easier in this city, and in the country afterwards."
Katz concluded, saying, "I'm aware of the criticism on the (light rail) work, but when the dust clears after the bridge's explosion, and when all the dust clears after the completion of the work in another few years – even the last skeptics will understand that the decision I made to go against the stream and carry out the project was the right decision for Gush Dan and the entire people of Israel."