BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority's higher planning council has reactivated a project to amend a section of the main highway connecting the southern and northern West Bank.
Original plans to build a new section of the Wadi al-Nar road were submitted more than a year ago to the ministry of local governance’s Bethlehem office and the municipal councils of al-Ubeidiya and Dar Salah. The new section would run through private lands in both towns.
The new route would bypass the hazardous hair-pin bends and steep cliff-side roads that snake around the hills of Wadi al-Nar, or the Valley of Fire. The road is the site of frequent, sometimes fatal, car accidents.
The road used to be a dirt track, but it became the main highway for Palestinians after Israeli authorities closed Jerusalem, forcing Palestinians to take the long detour around the city.
The mayor of al-Ubeidiya, Suleiman al-Asa, says the new section of the road is a top national priority because the road connects the south to the north.
The new route will be much safer for Palestinian vehicles and will reduce heavy traffic in al-Ubeidiya and Dar Salah, the mayor added.