Jerusalem, Feb. 22 – Israeli officials announced a major $130 million push to modernize the transportation infrastructure in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
The five-year plan will create 32 new roads and improve existing roads in the capital’s Arab neighborhoods, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced at a news conference with Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
The program is aimed at significantly improving the access to neighborhoods that have been plagued for years by narrow roads and traffic jams.
Barkat called the investment “a revolution that will bring a huge change in quality of life of residents of East Jerusalem and is part of an unprecedented effort to close gaps of decades in education, construction and services to residents.”
The mayor said that the city recognizes that investing in neighborhoods that become less neglected results in a significant increase in the quality of services there.
More than 30 roads will be paved and widened in Arab neighborhoods, and several new arterial roads will be added to improve access in and out of the eastern part of the city, especially in the Bethlehem-Jerusalem corridor.
Local neighborhood councils were consulted in the planning stage, with the plans taking into account input from Arab residents. The improved infrastructure is a key step in re-engineering and revitalizing the predominantly Arab neighborhoods to improve economic development and access to public facilities. The improvements include construction of sidewalks, guard rails, speed bumps and parking bays that don’t exist in many areas.
The announcement comes a few months after Jerusalem inaugurated its new light rail train that travels through Jewish, Arab and mixed neighborhoods, improving access to the central business district and reducing vehicular traffic in Jerusalem’s tightly packed city center.