At a groundbreaking ceremony for the roadworks at Tzomet Pat on Monday, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz stated that he would reach a decision regarding the Emek Refaim light rail soon. This announcement came shortly after Katz indefinitely postponed the decision of a committee that convened in April and was expected to finalize the plan earlier this month.
The Emek Refaim segment of the blue line has been the subject of debate for nearly two years, prompting detractors of the plan to devise alternatives and proponents to campaign in its favor. Katz promised to consider all sides in the matter, but despite meeting with critics of the plan twice, supporters of the Emek Refaim route say that the minister has yet to meet with them.
Katz has a history of involvement in the plan leading some to question his objectivity on the matter. In February 2017, Jerusalem’s Administrative Court rejected a petition to block the blue line from being constructed on Emek Refaim. Shortly after a meeting between local business owners, Minister Katz, and Deputy Mayor Meir Turjeman, who was arrested on charges of corruption in March, that decision was overturned.
The transportation minister maintains that he will confer with all relevant parties, including Mayor Nir Barkat, who is strongly in favor of the plan. Barkat believes that the light rail will do for Emek Refaim what it has done for Yafo Street, bringing an overall positive change for residents and businesses alike.