Overhead lines move becomes snarled in dispute

Knesset member and former Ra'anana mayor Ze'ev Bielski has joined the demands of Ra'anana residents to speed up the removal of the high-tension overhead electrical lines that cross the city, reports www.mynet.co.il. The removal of the lines to the planned Highway 531 route has become entangled in an apparent bureaucratic dispute between the Israel Electric Corporation and the Israeli National Roads Company, which is building the highway. According to the report, residents have been trying to have the lines removed for years, saying they are a serious hazard and harm their quality of life. In recent months, the IEC, the city of Ra'anana and the South Sharon Regional Council, through which the lines also run, approved their removal to the route of Highway 531, which is currently being built along the southern edge of Ra'anana. The report says the IEC claims it has presented plans for the work and is ready to go, but has not been given permission by the roads company. "We have no problem transferring (the lines)... we are just waiting for them to tell us where," an IEC spokesman said. But the roads company says the IEC began doing the work at the beginning of the year and the company is doing nothing to stop it from continuing. A Ra'anana municipal spokesman said there was a "difference of opinion" between the two organizations over the way the work should be carried out, and as a result the work had not been completed. The report said that Bielski wrote to Transportation Minister Israel Katz last week asking him to help move the process along. He said that plans to move the lines had begun while he was still mayor - a job he left in 2005 - and urged the minister to "exert your influence to speed up the permission of the Israeli National Roads Company so that the IEC can begin the work this year." No response was reported from the minister.