Jerusalemites not strung along by new bridge

Residents of the capital remain skeptical over the necessity and appearance of the new monument.

bridge of strings 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Tiram Sasson)
bridge of strings 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Tiram Sasson)
Despite the hoopla celebrating the inauguration of the Bridge of Strings, Jerusalemites remained skeptical over the necessity and appearance of the new monument. "It's very ugly," resident Moriah Malka told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, adding that the bridge was also "too big." "They should put it in Tel Aviv, because for the religious people it just doesn't fit Jerusalem," said Meital Golian, a student at the city's Efrata school. "It's too big and too ugly." The Bridge of Strings, also known as the Calatrava Bridge, was originally scheduled to open in March 2006, but has faced repeated setbacks, including allegations of structural defects and overall delays in the building process. The bridge, which will remain unused for another year or two while construction on the light rail system is completed, has so far cost taxpayers a whopping NIS 1.2 billion - a dramatic increase from the estimated NIS 500 million. Many Jerusalemites were unhappy with the amount of money spent on the bridge, saying it would have served a greater purpose elsewhere. "I think it's a lot of money and the bridge is useless," said Liza Reznik, a student at the Hebrew University. "I don't understand the point of building it." "There are more important things to spend money on than the bridge," said another resident. "The bridge is just for politics. They could have given the money to people who don't have food to eat." "I hate unnecessary public spending," said Erik Fryman, an American who works in Israel. "The money could be spent on education or go to the social workers who went on strike." But several Jerusalemites said the money spent on the bridge would help the city in the long term by attracting tourists. "It is too much money, but we need to think about after [the completion of the bridge], when all the tourists come to see it like in other countries," said computer store owner Aron Ben-Ami. "It's Jerusalem, so we need it because there are so many tourists who come here." Shulah Lumer, who works in a Jerusalem bank, said the bridge was not a waste of money because it would ease traffic. "It's necessary because it'll be easier to enter Jerusalem," she said. The inauguration of the Bridge of Strings on Wednesday evening cost an additional NIS 2 million. The night's festivities, which included performances by David Dor, Dudu Fisher and the Jerusalem Dance Troupe, expended nearly half the NIS 5m. that the municipality budgeted for culture for all of 2007. Jerusalem citizens also had mixed feelings about the money spent on the celebration, but tended toward enthusiasm for the extravaganza. "I think it's okay to spend that much money on something exciting," Reznik said, adding that she would not attend the festivities because she had other plans. "We need to spend money not only on bad things, but on things that make us happy," Lumer said. "It's not balanced. We don't want to be a country that only spends money on bad things." Still, others saw the celebration as additional waste. "The festivities are too expensive, because we don't need it," Ben-Ami said.