Orphan road

Who will fix Derech Yosef Weitz?

'It's like driving in the Third World," is the way one driver describes sections of Derech Yosef Weitz, the road that runs from Givat Shaul through the Jerusalem Forest to Beit Zayit. Studded with potholes, poorly paved and lacking lighting, elementary road markings and guard rails, Derech Yosef Weitz is a well-traveled artery that serves hundreds of cars every day winding their way to and from the city to Beit Zayit and beyond to Road 1, the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway. And yet, no authority is willing to claim responsibility for maintaining important sections of this road. "Until the opening of Road 9, this road was used to avoid the huge traffic jams on Road 1 at the entrance to Jerusalem," says one Beit Zayit resident. "Even now, it is still quite heavily traveled." The problem is that the road, which forms a Q-like loop, falls under different jurisdictions. From beneath the Paz Station on Beit Hadfus in Givat Shaul to the tail of the Q, Yosef Weitz is one-way outbound under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality. From there, it continues, two-way, within the jurisdiction of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council. On the inbound side, it goes from this tail, northward, reentering the Jerusalem Municipality and continuing around Har Nof to Givat Shaul. Drivers using the road complain mainly about the one-way, outbound section under city jurisdiction and the two-way tail in the Mateh Yehuda section. "For the past three years, I have been writing to the Jerusalem municipality, the Matei Yehuda Regional Council and the Public Works Department [Ma'atz] and I have not gotten any response. I even wrote to the State Comptroller's Office, but to no avail," says Amnon Silberstein, secretary of Beit Zayit. "The really bad part of the road is the two-way stretch of some 300 meters running past the Beit Zayit pool," he continues. "This part is in very poor condition and is quite narrow and dangerous, with a drainage ditch on one side. If a driver veers only slightly, he will go off into the ditch. There isn't even a white center line. "I wrote to all the relevant authorities recommending a guard rail. I asked that lighting be installed. But nothing has been done. I keep getting passed along from one body to the next, each one telling me it is not his responsibility. I have given up in despair. For every day without an accident on this road, we need to say birkat hagomel [the prayer recited by someone who has escaped a dangerous situation]." In response, the Jerusalem municipal spokesperson's office said: "The part of the road that is the municipality's responsibility is from beneath the Paz Station to Rehov Heftzadi in Givat Shaul. The rest of the road is the responsibility of Matei Yehuda. Our part is maintained year round by the Maintenance Department of the Municipal Improvements Department. As a result of the recent snowfalls, it could be that potholes were created on the road. The Maintenance Department will take care of fixing these as quickly as possible. Of course, the department will inform Matei Yehuda about this." At the Matei Yehuda Regional Council, spokesperson Moshe Dadon said: "We are responsible for the yishuvim in our area. The roads are the responsibility of the Public Works Department. It decides on repairs and carries out the work, not us." The Public Works Department spokesperson's office said: "The part of the road that runs from the Jerusalem city line to Beit Zayit is the responsibility of the Matei Yehuda Regional Council, not us. Our part of the road, which is only the entrance to Beit Zayit [from the end of the tail into the moshav], is in good condition and well maintained." In Jerusalem has learned that the Jerusalem Municipality has sent a crew out to fill potholes in its section. The repair and upgrade of Derech Yosef Weitz will have to wait then, it seems, until the bureaucracy surrounding who is responsible for maintaining what sections of this orphaned road is untangled.