CityPass, the Jerusalem Light Rail Transit Group, which won the tender for the construction of Jerusalem's light rail system, has recently moved its offices to a 20-dunam compound in the open area near the Energy Center and Binyenei Ha'uma. The site was leased to the company by the Israel Lands Authority. CityPass is expected to place some two dozen mobile units on the site, which will serve as local company headquarters and front-line offices for on-site workers, as well as staging areas, warehouses for the heavy equipment, and storage of the tracks themselves. CityPass has already established its "depot" at the French Hill intersection. The next stage of the works for the light rail is expected to begin within a few months, most probably by the beginning of January 2007, according to Shmuel Elgrably, spokesman for the light rail project. Elgrably further notes that the "Eppitrack" - a heavy vehicle especially designed for the placement of the tracks - has arrived in Israel. "One hundred and four years after Herzl predicted it, the work will start on Herzl Boulevard, just in front of Herzl's tomb," Elgrably adds. More than a quarter of the materials needed to lay tracks has also already been shipped to Israel. Officials at CityPass are keeping the location of the materials a secret, due to concern about steel and iron thieves. A group of French engineers, who will direct the on-site work, has also arrived in the city. Currently, Elgrably continues, the most intensive efforts are being made in coordination with the municipality's engineering and construction supervision departments, in order to obtain all necessary permits. According to Elgrably, laying the tracks requires a very specific permit, which must be obtained for each segment of the track, pending a thorough and up-to-date assessment of the route. CityPass officials expect that the permits will be granted by the end of the year and that the first tracks will ceremoniously be laid in place in early 2007.

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