THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Prioritizing public transportation

The local finance committee this week approved a budget of NIS 1.8 million for construction of a 280-meter bridge from the Abu Tor neighborhood to Mt. Zion and the Old City.

March 1, 2019 17:38
2 minute read.
THIS WEEK IN JERUSALEM: Prioritizing public transportation

BEGIN HIGHWAY will finally be getting a separate public transportation lane.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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Prioritizing public transportation

Have you ever felt that the bus you boarded should not be stuck in traffic with private cars? Well, at least in regard to the Begin Highway, this is about to change. Following years of hesitation and possibly denial, the Transport Ministry has finally agreed to designate a lane only for public transportation. Some bus lines may modify their routes; bus companies are working on this with the ministry and the municipality. Public transport activists in the city welcome the decision, which will encourage residents with private vehicles to use public transportation more. The project should be fully implemented in a year or two.

We’ll cross that bridge

The local finance committee this week approved a budget of NIS 1.8 million for construction of a 280-meter bridge from the Abu Tor neighborhood to Mt. Zion and the Old City.

In addition to encouraging residents and tourists to walk to the Old City, the new span can to some degree alleviate traffic congestion traffic in the area. The idea was first promoted by the Jerusalem Development Authority several years ago, but there were no funds to allocate. Another reason for the delay in promoting the project was the sensitivity of the location. Any project that could bring change to or is close to the Old City necessitates caution, and in 2014, at the height of the political and security tensions following the Protective Edge Operation, the parties involved decided to suspend the proposal. However, the project wasn’t totally withdrawn and in 2016, a request to move forward on the bridge was submitted by the JDA to the building and construction administration.

Now that the project has been approved by the finance committee, work is expected to commence within less than a year. This project complements another project, still in planning, to link the Old City with the western neighborhoods of Jerusalem with a cable car running from Hevron Road to the Dung Gate.

Pave paradise?

The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel is urging the public to submit opposition to the planned project to build 5,000 housing units on one of the last “green lungs” around Jerusalem – the “Rehes Lavan.”

The SPNI points out that there are alternatives for the urgent need to build new housing in the city and produced a report detailing enough plots and other solutions to meet the city’s needs at least until 2040. The Rehes Lavan construction project is a part of the Safdie project promoted in the 1990s by former mayor Ehud Olmert. That project was rejected but never really disappeared, and on a few occasions, it has been brought back to the public discourse. While environmental activists recognize the urgent need to provide affordable housing solutions for Jerusalem residents, they warn against surrendering the last green lungs of the largest city in the country to hazardous construction projects.

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