kotel western wall 298.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
A new road leading to the Western Wall aimed at easing traffic congestion in Jerusalem's Old City was inaugurated on Monday.
The two-way, three-kilometer thoroughfare, constructed at a cost of NIS 22 million, runs from opposite the Sultan's Pool, alongside the Hinnom Valley, and up to the City of David across from the Old City's Dung Gate.
"This is another move aimed at strengthening Jerusalem as Israel's capital as we celebrate 40 years since the city's reunification," Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said at the inauguration ceremony.
The last stretch of the new road, leading from the Arab village of Silwan up to the Dung Gate, is expected to be completed in a couple of years, with today's new road connecting to the old existing road alongside the City of David across from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
A new NIS 6m. tourist promenade in the historic Hinnom Valley, which for years had been filled with refuse and waste from construction projects, was also created as part of the project, which includes a national park and walking trail.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski said that the new road would help reduce the massive traffic congestion created by visitors driving to the Western Wall. Until now, motorists making their way to the Western Wall had to either drive through Jaffa Gate and the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old City or travel around the walls of the Old City to the Western Wall via the Lion's Gate.
Lupolianski said the project, which was jointly funded by the Transportation Ministry, the Tourism Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality, "is of major Jewish significance" to the residents of the Old City and surrounding areas.
Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said that the road and the tourism project at the Hinnom Valley will create a "tourism continuity" between the Sultan's Pool and the City of David.
The Western Wall is Jerusalem's - and Israel's - top tourist attraction, with an estimated five million people visiting the holy site in the last year.