On January 1 the MTS group of companies (including one from China!) led by Israeli businessman Lev Levayev won the tender for the first line on the Tel Aviv metro.
Ben Gurion asked Golda Meir to start planning a metro in 1952. In the 60's the plans for nearby Shalom Tower included space for a metro station (which won't be built there). So its been a long gestation period even by Israeli standards and for years we had the feeling that the chances of ever seeing a metro in Tel Aviv were about the same as the chance of shaking hands with the messiah. But now things are happening. Property owners are being asked to move and concerned groups whose homes and businesses are close to the planned line are beginning to sue for compensation.
If all goes according to plan (and when has it?) by 2012 my Tel Aviv rooftop will be shuddering slightly every time a train goes by about 100 metres away (underground). Since we have to do everything our own way in Israel, the underground will not exactly be "underground". Only 10 of the total 22 kms will be. Work is due to begin in 2007 which means at least 5 years of construction hell before things get better and we can begin to enjoy the benefits - less buses and cars clogging and polluting and faster travel times.
Here's a site with the route of the first red line and some background http://www.urbanrail.net/as/tlav/tel-aviv.htm
and here's the site of the planning body (English site still under construction)http://www.nta.org.il/site/he/homepage.asp