Rishon Lezion opposes light rail plans

Rishon Lezion Photo: Eyal Izhar

The municipality is petitioning the High Court of Justice, arguing that the plan will cause serious and irreversible damage.

The Rishon Lezion municipality this week petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that the rejection by the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas of its objection to the Tel Aviv light rail Brown Line route be reversed.

The 30-kilometer route of the Brown Line, which is designed to run from Lod in the east to Rishon Lezion in the west, contains 46 stations. The NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System company estimates that the Brown Line, which will be connected to the Red and Green Lines, will serve 124,000 passengers a day, including over 17,000 in the peak morning hours.

The Rishon Lezion municipality says that it wants to promote mass transit in its jurisdiction, but believes that a bus rapid transit (BRT) system is preferable to the Brown Line route.

The municipality argues that the plan passed by the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas "seriously and irreversibly damages" the planning fabric and quality of life of the city's residents. The city therefore submitted an objection to the plan, which the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas rejected, following by a petition by the Rishon Lezion municipality to the High Court of Justice.

The petition, filed through Adv. Tamar Igra from the Harari Toister & Co. law firm, asks that the depot planned west of the Elef site be moved more southward in order to avoid disrupting the planned business and residential continuity in the area between the Elef site and beach in the west, which the IDF is scheduled to vacate. The depot's planned 280-dunam (70-acre) site between Elef and the sea will significantly disrupt the urban continuity planned by the municipality.

The Rishon Lezion municipality also argues that changing the route in the Elef area is very important. According to the plan presented, the rail line will pass through the residential area, not the business area, as it should.

The municipality also wants to move the light rail route from Koresh Street in western Rishon Lezion to the parking lot on the coast and back east via Rehavam Ze'evi Street. This will lengthen the route by 2.5 kilometers in order to accommodate visitors to the beach, while not going through the Neve Hof neighborhood.

As for the route through the town center, the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas accepted the Rishon Lezion municipality's objection to having the route go along Hacarmel Street, which it says cannot contain the light rail. On the other hand, it did not decide on an alternative; it passed the decision to NTA, which will propose a new route.

The Rishon Lezion municipality is asking the High Court of Justice to overturn the decision by the National Committee for Planning Priority Housing Areas and order it to reconsider the questions raised before the court in view of its "unreasonable and disproportionate" decision.

Major doubt exists about whether the Brown Line will be constructed. "Globes" revealed that the light rail Brown Line had been omitted from the list of light railway lines that the state had undertaken to develop in order to promote the metro project. At the same time, planning for the Brown Line is going ahead in planning committees, despite the uncertainty about its actual construction.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 12, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Rishon Lezion Photo: Eyal Izhar
Rishon Lezion Photo: Eyal Izhar
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