No light at end of tunnel for new Jerusalem road

Jerusalem court will hold another hearing later this month over opening of road, held up by court partly as a result of environmental concerns.

construction ahead 88 (photo credit: )
construction ahead 88
(photo credit: )
Motorists to Jerusalem awaiting the much-touted opening of a major city road which is meant to alleviate the congestion at the entrance to the capital need to put brakes on their expectations of imminent traffic relief. A Jerusalem court will hold another hearing later this month over the opening of the road, which has been held up by the court partly as a result of environmental concerns, officials said. The thoroughfare, Road Nine, which will run from the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway and will directly connect to the city's Begin Road without entering the congested entrance to the capital was originally supposed to open in 2008, a spokesman for the Moriah construction company said. A request by Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to speed up work on the road so that it could be inaugurated last month in conjunction with the start of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem has been held up by a Jerusalem court following an appeal 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 Jerusalem Municipality and the Moriah construction company systematically worked against the law in the construction of the road, and in their attempt to open the road in violation of the law," said SPNI official Shaked Avraham who filed the appeal on behalf of the environmental group. Moriah is a sister-company of the Jerusalem Municipality. Avraham added that critical fencing work to prevent animals from entering the road must be completed before the road can be opened. Additional work - including cleaning piles of debris - also needs to be done as well, Avraham said. Moriah spokesman Yehoshua Mur-Yossef denied the allegations of wrongdoing, and said that Moriah had subsequently reached an agreement with the SPNI over what work needed to be done in order to open the road, but has since been stymied by the Interior Ministry as a result of the original agreement between the two sides. A ceremony marking the opening of the road last month was nixed at the last moment as a result of the dispute and ongoing legal wrangling. The Jerusalem court will hold another hearing on the case later this month, while the Interior Ministry will meet next month to take up the legal issue. The half billion shekel road will run 3.5 km and includes three bridges and two tunnels. The opening of the road will allow motorists from Tel Aviv to reach Jerusalem's Malha Mall or the city's Teddy Stadium without going through a single traffic light.