This Wednesday morning, the usual bumper-to-bumper traffic was absent from the city entrance. The reason: the opening of Road 9. Its original May 21 ribbon cutting was postponed by the Jerusalem District Court in response to a petition by the SPNI that required environmental work in and around the highway had not been completed. Moriah - the municipal agency that built the four-lane expressway around the north side of the city - failed to construct fences to prevent animals from entering the busy thoroughfare, as stipulated in the project's contract. In addition, Ram Balnikov, then-director-general of the Interior Ministry, had requested that landscape damage to the Sorek Valley be repaired before the highway was allowed to open, and demanded monetary guarantees from the Transportation Ministry and Moriah. Although these demands have yet to be met, the Regional Planning Committee approved the road's opening on July 17 after receiving commitments from the Jerusalem Municipality and Moriah to complete their ecological remediation. The new 3.5-km bypass road, built over the past six years at a cost of NIS 500 million, curves from Motza past Beit Iksa to Ramot.

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