(January 30, 2019 / JNS) Israel’s National Planning Council has approved plans for a cable car that will lead from the Jerusalem First Train Station to the historic Old City, crossing over the Ben Hinom Valley.
The council will publish plans for the tourist attraction and convenient new travel system in newspapers on Feb. 1, which will begin a 60-day public response period during which time criticism can be raised prior to finalization.
According to the plan, up to 3,000 people will be able to use the system every hour, helping to unclog the popular Old City destination with the use of 72 10-person cabins.
The initiative is being backed by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, who say the cable car will revolutionize tourism in Jerusalem and smooth the flow of the city, bringing travelers from the First Train Station over Ben Hinom Valley to Mount Zion, then over the Silwan neighborhood to the soon-to-be-built multi-story Kedem Center at the site of the City of David archaeological excavations, just outside the Dung Gate entrance to the Western Wall plaza.
The entire mile-long journey is expected to take under five minutes.
The initial plan was announced on Jerusalem Day 2017, marking 50 years since the liberation of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War. The project is estimated to cost $55.2 million and become operational in 2021.
Yet some objections have been raised to the plan. In a letter written in September, esteemed Canadian-Israeli architect Moshe Safdie warned that the plan would shift traffic rather than solve it, and said the modern travelway would mar the historic and ancient aesthetic of the city.
“To the best of my knowledge, there is no other historic city in the world that has allowed construction of a cable-car system within the visual basin of its historical heritage,” he said. “A cable-car system, running close to the Old City walls … will provide a precedent that, without doubt, will spark international opposition and criticism.”