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Traffic in Rechavia possibly headed underground

by michael May 01 2011
City planningMunicipal news

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Jerusalem - even modern Jerusalem - is an old city.  Many neighborhoods date back to the horse-and-buggy era, and the street layout is, to put it gently, more "organic" than "thought-out." All of this conspires to create quite the crush of traffic in Jerusalem's more venerable neighborhoods, and with no space to build more roads (all those priceless vintage houses in the way), it seems an intractable problem.

Unless, of course, as Ha'aretz notes, you build a tunnel.

Getting from Sacher Park to Independence Park in Jerusalem today requires a slow crawl through the crowded arteries of the upscale Rehavia neighborhood. A new municipal plan, which includes a tunnel connecting the two parks, could spell an end to the heavy traffic flowing through the neighborhood's Rambam [sic] Street, which connects the city center to the government quarter and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway.

The traffic in what was once a quiet garden quarter is disturbing the residents and some claim it has impeded Rehavia's development. The new plan, long in preparation by architect Nahum Meltzer, was filed yesterday at the municipality so the public can register objections or comments.

After the public comment period, the plan will be hashed over by city hall and assuming passage, will become an binding document for the next decades. The plan does not detail the tunnel but only offers it as one option to alleviate Rehavia's traffic troubles.

That's such a good idea, it's a wonder nobody seems to have thought about it before (well, except for that one under Jaffa Gate, pictured above, which has actually worked wonderfully). It's an exciting time for Jerusalem urban planning these days, what with the Bridge of Strings' walking path, the much-needed initiative for better cinemas in town, and an ambitious plan to better integrate Jerusalem's government infrastructure with the rest of the city. Now, if they could just do something about that light rail....

Photo of Jaffa Gate tunnel courtesy of EagleXDV from Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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