In the works for almost two years, a project to ease access to the Old City of Jerusalem has overcome a significant hurdle.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
An express cable car to the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem is edging closer to realization.
The project’s plans were submitted Monday to the National Infrastructure Committee.
The NIS200 million undertaking is being primarily financed by the Tourism Ministry, and its head, Minister Yariv Levin, called the plan’s submission “a giant step forward” toward its fruition.
The project “will change the face of Jerusalem, enabling easy and convenient access to tourists and visitors to the Kotel [Western Wall] and be an exceptionally important tourist attraction.”
The government had initially approved its construction in honor of the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem in May 2017.
The proposed line will start at the First Station near Mt. Zion and run through two more stops before arriving at the Ir David (David’s City) tourist compound in the Silwan neighborhood, located right across from the Dung Gate entrance to the Western Wall.
The plans may still be challenged by the public – and it has its detractors. World renowned architect Moshe Safdie, for example, wrote a negative analysis that was presented at a conference in September organized by the Jerusalem Development Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.
One of his major objections was that since the cable cars would pass over the Mount of Olives and Hinnom Valley, they would interfere with the Old City skyline, which he called “the visual core” of Jerusalem’s “historical heritage.”
There were also other objections which will seemingly be raised again, such as that the project would not solve the traffic problems in the Old City and that it would be a noise hazard during the cars’ descent over residential neighborhoods.
The cable car project’s director, Shmulik Tzabari, rejected these concerns out of hand while extolling the plan’s virtues on Tuesday in Israel Hayom.
“Other solutions were examined, and the only one that does not require the expansion of roads and does not harm the original landscape is the cable car, via which [the Old City] can be reached without conflicting with other means of transportation,” Tzabari said.
“And it directly connects Western Jerusalem with the basin of the southern Old City in four and a half minutes,” he added. “The cable car doesn’t make noise or create pollution, and there will be minimum damage to the land. Altogether, there will be 73 cars that can hold 10 people each. With a car leaving every 12 seconds, 3,000 people can ride it one way during ‘rush hour.’”
The project will take about two years to complete, the Tourism Ministry said.