Residents demand to be part of highway planning talks

Residents of northern Ra'anana have sent a letter to the National Infrastructure Committee demanding to be included in the discussions over a six-lane highway planned to be built along the northern edge of the city, reports The residents say the planned Highway 541 will have far-reaching effects on them and on the entire northern section of the city, which contains the last remaining open stretch of fields and orchards in Ra'anana. According to the report, the residents wrote to the committee saying they had been informed recently by Mayor Nahum Hofree that the planning for the highway was "at its peak." They asked to be allowed to join the planning discussions as public representatives, saying that obtaining their cooperation would "contribute significantly" to every stage of the process. The planned six-lane highway, which includes a train track, is to be built along the northern edge of the city, in some cases only meters from private houses. Residents' committee representative Yoram Horowitz said the highway was originally planned to be built on the northern border of the city, but had now been moved southward to run through the agricultural lands in the northern section of Ra'anana. He said this would destroy the last rural area remaining in the city. "It is important that residents be involved in planning the highway from the beginning," he said. "We must not reach a situation in which the authorities tell us that we are too late, the plans are finished, the budget is approved, and so on." Horowitz added that if the National Infrastructure Committee did not accept the residents' request to be allowed to join the discussions, he would turn to the courts. No response was reported from the committee.