What’s the latest on the Emek Refaim light rail?

The route of the light rail’s Blue Line down , a central thoroughfare in the German Colony neighborhood, is not yet a done deal and activists are still campaigning to have the plan permanently shelved.

The numerous arguments presented to former mayor Nir Barkat failed to dissuade him from pushing ahead even after he was presented with viable alternatives. Barkat remained impervious to pleas that construction would force several of the businesses in and around Emek Refaim to close down, and would devalue apartments, causing financial distress to residents who wanted to sell and move elsewhere rather than put up with several years of discomfort during the time it would take to put the light rail infrastructure in place.

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Mayor Moshe Lion has not yet decided whether to continue with Barkat’s plan or to seek another route that would meet with the approval of the majority of residents and business proprietors in the area.

When asked this week by In Jerusalem, Lion said that he has to re-examine the situation, and until he does so, he will not make a commitment one way or the other.

Meanwhile Amutat Refaim has sent out an urgent notice of a meeting to be held at Ginot Ha’ir Community Center at 12 Emek Refaim Street on Tuesday, December 11, for an important update.

The notice is addressed to “Lovers of Jerusalem Against the Light Rail on Emek Refaim,” and indicates that the evening will also be used for the signing of new objections by people who want to both save the neighborhood and Hamesila Park.

The new objections must be signed before December 24 so that they can reach the Regional Council before it makes its final decision.

The objections listed by the Amuta include issues of safety, speed of travel, health, environment, and historic and cultural preservation.

The opponents to the light rail route through Emek Refaim contend that it will 1) send massive streams of traffic to the tiny streets and alleys adjacent to Emek Refaim; 2) lengthen travel time, as there will be only one track for the train in both directions with 11 stops along the way; 3) add noise pollution and radiation to the route; 4) require the chopping down of 100-year-old trees and the destruction of fences and gardens; 5) destroy the character of the German Colony; and 6) result in the demise of many business enterprises.

Residents who may be affected by these issues are asked to sign a form stating their objections. The form must be signed in the presence of lawyer Assaf Obsfeld. Anyone who wants to sign but cannot attend the meeting on December 11 can come with their ID card to Obsfeld’s office at 72 Emek Refaim before December 24.

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