Court once again delays opening of Jerusalem highway

A Jerusalem court has renewed a ban on the opening of a major new thoroughfare in the capital until repairs are made to environmental and landscape damages caused by the paving of the road, court documents released Tuesday show. The Jerusalem District Court accepted an appeal late Monday that was filed by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which argued that required environmental work in and around the road has not been completed as required by law. The thoroughfare, dubbed Route Nine, will run from the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and will directly connect to the city's Begin Highway without entering the congested entrance to the capital. "There is no doubt that it is in the public's interest to open the road to traffic, but it is also in the public's interest to preserve the nature and the rehabilitation of the Arazim Valley," Judge Musia Arad wrote in the ruling. The judge also ordered the Moriah Construction company, which is a sister company of the Jerusalem Municipality, to pay NIS 30,000 in court fees. A request by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to speed up work on the road so that it could be inaugurated this spring in conjunction with the start of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem was previously held up by a Jerusalem court following an appeal filed by SPNI. The NIS 500 million road, which includes three bridges and two tunnels, will run 3.5 kilometers. The opening of the road will allow motorists from Tel Aviv to reach Jerusalem's Malha Mall or the city's Teddy Stadium without facing a single traffic light.