Residents demand state comptroller stop Highway 1 expansion

NIS 5 billion project aimed at relieving heavy traffic jams that plague the entrance to Jerusalem; residents warn of limited benefits.

demonstrators against the Highway 1 expansion 311 (photo credit: Maor Avigail)
demonstrators against the Highway 1 expansion 311
(photo credit: Maor Avigail)
Residents from the Jerusalem suburbs around the Highway 1 corridor are appealing to the state comptroller to investigate a project to expand the heavily-used Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway, in a hearing that will take place on Tuesday.
The NIS 5 billion project, designed by the semi-public National Roads Company, is aimed at relieving the heavy traffic jams that plague the entrance to Jerusalem. But residents complain that the expansion will only shorten the highway by 400 meters, shaving less than a minute off travel time.
The residents’ biggest worry about the project is that it will force those who live in the Jerusalem suburbs along the Highway 1 corridor, including Mevaseret Zion, Har Adar, Abu Ghosh, and Mateh Yehuda, to use a single entrance, instead of the current two entrances. In the new plan, the interchanges of Ariel and Motza will be replaced with an interchange only at Ariel.
Residents expressed concern that one entrance would pose a safety problem in the event of a fire, terrorist attack, or accident, and could even prevent ambulances from getting to Jerusalem hospitals in a timely matter.
“You’d think that a project that is so complicated and affects so many people, the government would invest a little effort into how they are doing it,” a neighborhood representative said.
The request to the state comptroller to scrutinize the project is ahead of a High Court of Justice hearing in September, where residents hope they can convince the court to cancel the project completely based on security complaints.
In May, hundreds of protesters attempted to block the highway to protest the expansion project.
There are 200,000 residents in the “corridor” suburbs, including Beit Shemesh, who will be affected by the changes.