New exciting transport solutions, close to Jerusalem Old City walls! The Council for the Preservation of Heritage Sites and the Association of Architects and Town Planners have issued stinging critiques of a controversial project to build a cable car designed to solve the problem of accessibility to Jerusalem Old City.
As Fireworks illuminate the sky in celebration of the 51st Jerusalem day, the Israeli cabinet gave the green light to the proposal that the Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin has submitted to invest $56 million, to be distributed equally between the Finance Ministry and the Tourism Ministry, in the construction of a cable car that runs through the national park that surrounds Jerusalem Old City.
The 1.4-kilometre-long-line will be in operation in 2021 and pretty soon Israeli citizens will see airborne gondolas carrying nearly 3 000 tourists an hour. But critics have called the project deeply flawed. “As far as I know, and I’ve researched the topic, there is no other historical city in the world that allowed a cable car to be built within the visual core of its historical heritage”, wrote Moshe Safdie, an internationally renowned urban designer, in an analysis of the controversial plan which was presented at a conference jointly organised by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA).
The value of Jerusalem Old City Cable car is disputed
More than 70 public figures from academia, archaeology and the arts have signed a petition, say “holy city is ‘not Disneyland and its treasures of landscape and its heritage are not negotiable currency”, calling on the Israeli government to find out an alternative way to improve the accessibility to Jerusalem Old City.
“One of the main problems with cable cars is that the infrastructure is inflexible. If people decide after a few years that they want to change the route, add stations or increase capacity, it’s impossible. There a certain risk that if there is no demand, we’ll be stuck with a white elephant. If there’s a natural disaster or an attack, it’s very hard to fix it. A bus can be switched to a different route”, said Prof.Erel Avineri, head of Department, Engineering, and Management of Infrastructure Systems, at Afeka Tel Aviv Academic College of Engineering.
And furthermore, in historic cities, it is widely accepted that the values of preservation and landscape should not be sacrificed in favor of transport innovations that are obviously foreign to their historical character. To solve the problem of accessibility or to enhance the tourism experience? Time will tell.
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