Building on the new Jerusalem Gateway project began this week in the area of the holy city’s main entrance-way. So Jerusalem residents and tourists alike should brace themselves for a lot of noise and disruptions over the next few years.
A cornerstone laying ceremony for the $370 million project was held on Wednesday night with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in attendance. He was joined by Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.
The project will see the area around Jerusalem’s busiest intersection, where Highway 1 ends at Israel’s Capital, completely transformed. Situated around the city’s Central Bus Station, Jerusalem Gateway will see 24 new buildings constructed over more than 170 acres of land. Fourteen of the new structures will have at least 24 stories each and 9 will have as many as 36 floors. The current national convention center, Binyanei Hauma, which is located opposite the bus station, will be expanded and renovated.
Also, while some of the old buildings will remain, a row of hulks on Yaffo Street which have lain empty for years will finally be replaced. And the new train station for the hopefully soon to be completed new Tel Aviv – Jerusalem rail line will also be located there. The new train service is expected to allow for greater and easier commutes for people who live in one of the two cities and work in the other.
Critics complain that the new skyscrapers will alter Jerusalem’s unique flavor for the worse, making too much like Tel Aviv, and that they will overshadow the neighboring areas.
The traffic jams at the city entrance will be dealt with by having the highway into town end with a tunnel over which the local streets will pass.
More than 40, 000 jobs are expected to be created by the project.