The Jerusalem Planning and Building Committee will convene this morning to discuss the fate of the planned light rail crossing on Emek Refaim. The controversial route was met with strong resistance from store owners and local residents who believe that it will have a negative effect on them in the short term. They successfully managed to have its approval retracted through a well-funded campaign.
The committee will weigh whether to keep the route as planned, move the rail line to the parallel HaRakevet Street, or divert it through an underground tunnel which would bypass Emek Refaim.
As planned, the light rail would be a “boon for the aesthetics of the street and the businesses that line it” according to Mayor Nir Barkat. Yafo Street, which for years suffered from chronic traffic congestion, poor air quality, and failing businesses, experienced a turnaround that serves as the model for the expansion of the rail network to Emek Refaim and throughout Jerusalem.
If the line is moved to HaRakevet Street, the popular Park HaMesila would be destroyed – a proposition that even opponents of the light rail on Emek Refaim are against. Diverting the rail through an underground tunnel, therefore, stands as the main issue that the committee will discuss.
The segment in question serves as an integral part of the blue line, which has already been granted municipal approval.