Jerusalem’s chief engineer is now contemplating the expansion of the ongoing light rail construction, extending it to Dung Gate in the Old City, servicing riders wishing to visit the Kosel.
Apparently a meeting addressing the matter was held in secret on July 25th, deciding to meet clandestinely to avoid objections from representatives of the Jews, Christians and Muslims. The engineer feels that bringing the train so close to the Old City and its ancient cemeteries will create a storm among the religions.
According to the Yediot Achronot report, other participants in the meeting included the city’s architect, planner, and other senior professionals who would have a say in such a massive project. The proponents of the plan feel the move would significantly alleviate the vehicular congestion in the Old City and expedite travel to the Kosel.
They experts decided that the city’s transportation officials would prepare a master plan that would limit vehicular travel in the Old City and presenting the plan for the light rail to the Dung Gate. Yediot reports that any plans for having the light rail enter the Old City were scrapped for fear of trampling “Muslim religious sensitivities”. This reality resulted in the alternate plan, having the train travel to the Dung Gate via Chativat Yerushalayim Street and Maale Shalom to the gate, a short walk from the Kosel. The plan involves a 600-meter tunnel under Har Tzion.
No mention was made in the report regarding the cost of the extension of the light rail.
(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)