Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat gave the go ahead Thursday for a new light rail line that will traverse one of the city’s most popular shopping streets.
Jerusalem City Hall announced that it will go ahead with the creation of the new Blue Line that will run from the northern neighborhood of Ramot to the southern ne.ighborhood of Gilo by way of Emek Refaim Street.
The new train “will bring many people to [Emek Refaim] street and will raise the revenues of the businesses substantially and benefit the merchants, the residents and lovers of the German Colony,” Barkat wrote.
The train’s “budget will allow the investment of hundreds of millions of shekels in a new appearance, while also preserving the uniqueness and appearance of the street and the German Colony,” he wrote.
לאחר הליך שיתוף ציבור ארוך ומעמיק החלטנו: הרכבת הקלה תעבור ברחוב עמק רפאים ותפיח חיים חדשים ברחוב!—אשמח לשתף אתכם…
The German Colony was founded by German Christians in the late 19th century and is today one of Jerusalem’s most upscale neighborhoods, known for its architecture from the Ottoman and British eras. Emek Refaim Street, around which the neighborhood is based, has a number of restaurants and boutique stores and is known for its upscale yet quaint character.
Residents of the neighborhood have protested the planned light rail line, saying that it will ruin the areas uniqueness and lead to its commercialization.
Barkat tried to reassure the residents in his Facebook post that there will be “communal and professional consultations” throughout the construction process with “groups of merchants and residents” in order to quell their concerns.
Jerusalem’s only current operating light rail line was inaugurated in 2011 and runs along Jaffa Street in the heart of the city. While many have hailed the train as a symbol of coexistence, it has also been targeted in dozens of rock-throwing attacks by Palestinian residents of the city in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods through which it passes.
There have also been shooting, stabbing and car-ramming attacks at train stops in the city’s east, with the perpetrators trying to undermine Jerusalem’s fragile unity.
In November, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced plans to extend Jerusalem’s planned light rail lines to Jewish settlements in the West Bank located near the city.