It seems no place is so sacred that the trappings of modern life do not intrude–including, apparently, the birthplace of Jesus. Bethlehem has a traffic problem.
Here’s the Associated Press:
Traffic is a mess year-round. It may be the biblical town of grottos and shepherds’ fields in the minds of many around the world, but Bethlehem is a modern densely populated town of 28,000 with a dizzying weave of small streets that practically guarantee traffic jams.
“Bethlehem is going through a crisis,” said Anton Salman, a city councilor.
The proposed solution is sort of a mini-Big Dig–tunnels around the city, which would theoretically minimize traffic near the holiest sites:
The plan proposes an 80-meter-long (260-foot long) tunnel passing under a narrow two-lane street that crosses Manger Square in front of the Nativity Church. The project would take about two years to complete and would cost $4 million to $5 million, with the Palestinian Authority pledging to foot the bill. If the plan is approved, construction could start next fall.
It’s not a fait accompli–UNESCO needs to sign off on the plan and archeological issues are sure to arise–but miracles have been known to happen.