J'lem Mayor Tours Lite Rail Construction

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz toured the Jaffa Road portion of the light rail construction site Tuesday.

The light rail, meant to relieve traffic congestion and provide the public with better access to Jerusalem, is years behind schedule, costing millions more than originally estimated.

During the mayoral campaign, Barkat promised a much more hands-on approach to the project, whose prolonged construction has hurt many of the city's merchants, putting some out of business.

"There is no doubt that the public is suffering immensely because of this project," the mayor said. "You can imagine that I'm very dissatisfied with the pace of the work," he said.

Shimon Darwish, who represents merchants at the Mahaneh Yehuda (open air) market, said it is unimaginable how poorly the project has been handled.

"It cannot be that the city center is paralyzed for years because of this work," Darwish said. "This kind of thing doesn't happen anywhere else in the world," he said.

While Barkat would have been willing to scrap the project, the transportation minister said at this stage, it needed to be finished.

"We need to minimize, as much as possible, the damage and suffering of the public," Mofaz said.

The light rail is now scheduled to be operational by September 2010.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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