E. J'lem roads get half-billion shekel boost

Barkat, Katz announce plan which will create 32 new roads and improve existing roads in capital’s Arab neighborhoods.

East Jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
East Jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Melanie Lidman)
Mayor Nir Barkat and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced a half-billion shekel, five-year improvement plan for roads in east Jerusalem on Wednesday.
The plan will create 32 new roads and improve existing roads in the capital’s Arab neighborhoods.
“This is a message to every resident of Jerusalem and every resident in east Jerusalem, that here we are strengthening Jerusalem in every way possible, both to get into Jerusalem as well as within Jerusalem, for every sector of the population that lives here,” said Katz. “On top of all this, we need to strengthen Jerusalem as the united capital, and to show that we are concerned for every citizen.”
Barkat acknowledged that decades of neglect had created serious gaps between east and west Jerusalem’s infrastructure, but he said the 32 new streets are “part of a process.”
The plan will budget approximately NIS 50 million per year for the next five years for new roads. Other parts of the plan will upgrade existing roads, including building sidewalks and improving accessibility around schools. Also, NIS 20 million will be dedicated to developing roads that provide an alternative to the clogged Highway 1, Jerusalem’s main entrance and exit.
Additionally, Barkat announced a budget of NIS 300 million for 200 new classrooms in east Jerusalem. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which researches education disparities in east Jerusalem, estimates a lack of 1,000 classrooms.
“We know there is a clear connection between infrastructure development and the blossoming of the city,” Barkat said, adding that the connections between poverty, crime and illegal building are clear. “There is no question [this plan] will significantly improve the city,” he said.
The improvements for roads in east Jerusalem include eight new roads in Shuafat and Beit Hanina, three new roads in Isawiya, two new roads on the Mount of Olives and in Wadi Joz, eight new roads in a-Tur, Ras el-Amud and Silwan, four new roads in Beit Safafa, and seven new roads in the Tzur Bahar/Jebl Mukaber neighborhood.
There are no plans for improving roads in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem that are located on the Palestinian territory side of the separation barrier but still located within municipal Jerusalem. The infrastructure in these neighborhoods, home to approximately 60,000 Arab residents, is among the worst in the city.