Battle over Highway 531 reaches new levels

Highway 531 is being planned as a major east-west artery that will run along the southern edge of Ra'anana and northern Herzliya.

traffic 88 (photo credit:)
traffic 88
(photo credit: )
The long-running battle over the planned Highway 531 is set to flare up again after the Interior Ministry's National Infrastructure Committee last week rejected the idea of making the highway a tunnel and said it should remain an open road, reports the Hebrew weekly Ha'ir-Tzomet Hasharon. The Herzliya and Ra'anana residents' action committee that has been pushing for the tunnel expressed fury over the decision and vowed to fight on with every means at its disposal. Highway 531 is being planned as a major east-west artery that will run along the southern edge of Ra'anana and northern Herzliya to the coastal highway. Residents have been fighting for the road to be made a tunnel, saying the expected increase in traffic would create massive noise and air pollution and a tunnel would alleviate this. Several months ago, the National Infrastructure Committee rejected the tunnel idea on the grounds of cost. The Residents' Action Committee appealed to the Supreme Court, which ordered the committee to reconsider the tunnel idea. Now the Infrastructure Committee has once again rejected the tunnel, saying it is not practical and would cost more than NIS 1 billion to build. The committee suggested solving the expected traffic problems by limiting the amount of cars traveling on the highway and by charging a toll for cars. But a spokeswoman for the Residents' Committee said the Infrastructure Committee had not considered the issue properly and had not obeyed the court's order to discuss the matter with an open mind. She said residents would head back to the Supreme Court to prove that the committee had not managed its discussions properly. "It is shocking that decisions that are so fateful for human lives are decided in a way that is so unprofessional and irregular," the spokeswoman said. An Interior Ministry spokesman said the discussions had been conducted in "the most professional and most appropriate way."