A major new thoroughfare in Jerusalem whose inauguration was held up by environmental concerns will open Wednesday in the latest attempt to relieve the daily traffic congestion at the entrance to the capital, the Transportation Ministry said Monday. Road 9 will run from the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and will connect to the city's Begin Highway, bypassing the heavily congested entrance to the capital. "The opening of Road 9 is good news for residents of Jerusalem and its surroundings, and for anyone who wants to come to Jerusalem," Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said in a statement. "Continuing the development of Israel's highway infrastructure is a national mission that helps fight traffic accidents and contributes to the Israeli economy and to the welfare of [its] citizens," he added. The half-billion shekel road runs a distance of 3.5 km. and includes three bridges and two tunnels. Motorists arriving from Tel Aviv will be able to reach Jerusalem's Malha Mall or Teddy Stadium without going through a single traffic light. The opening of the highway had been held up by a Jerusalem court following an appeal filed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. The SPNI argued that environmental work on and around the road was not completed as required by law. The court agreed that fencing work intended to prevent animals from wandering into the thoroughfare must be completed before the road could open. The court also ordered the Moriah Construction Company, a sister company of the Jerusalem Municipality, to pay NIS 30,000 in court fees. According to an agreement reached last week at the behest of Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, Moriah Construction and the municipality will commit to a timetable for repairing environmental and landscape damage caused by the road's construction. Before the road actually opens, the Nature and Parks Authority will certify that the fences have indeed been completed.

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