Cities disappointed as court stays out of highway battle

The cities of Ra'anana and Herzliya and activists seeking to have the controversial Highway 531 made into a tunnel were disappointed last week when the Supreme Court decided it would not intervene in the matter, reports The court's three judges said that government planners had made decisions on the highway with full authority, and it was not the court's place to interfere with them. According to the report, lawyers for the two cities, the Residents' Action Committee for the Tunnel, and the Israel Union for Environmental Defense petitioned the court to force the national road planners to re-examine the tunnel option. The controversial highway is being built as a major east-west artery along the Kfar Saba-Hod Hasharon border, the southern edge of Ra'anana and the northern edge of Herzliya. Residents have been fighting furiously to have at least part of the highway built as a tunnel to avoid the expected increase in noise and air pollution near residential areas. Ra'anana city councilor and Action Committee head Meli Polishook-Bloch said the judges' decision not to intervene was disappointing, and that the judges were unaware that the high cost estimates and engineering difficulties presented by the planners for the tunnel were misleading. She said the committee would "continue to fight for the health of our children and the health of all residents, and will not allow the authorities to poison us, even if this is done with authorization." A Ra'anana municipal spokesman also expressed disappointment with the decision, saying the court had now rejected four petitions on the matter. But the spokesman said the city still believed that state authorities would "do everything they can to preserve the health of the public."