Discord at opening of Chords Bridge
The Chords Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was inaugurated yesterday evening in a ceremony attended by 20,000 people. The bridge's mast reaches 119 meters into the sky, supported by 66 steel cables.
The new bridge is expected to sit unused for the next few years, as work on the Jerusalem light rail project, whose trams are supposed to cross the span, are years behind schedule.
The ceremony was accompanied by a large number of discordant notes: City councilors criticized the high cost of the ceremony, some NIS 2 million. They also criticized the the original decision to invest tens of millions of shekels in the bridge instead of cheaper alternatives.
Angry residents even hung a huge sign on a building behind the bridge, making a Hebrew pun on Calatrava's name and calling it "cursed," as well as calling the bridge "the city's clothesline."
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski compared criticism of the bridge to that made by Paris residents of the Eiffel tower or New Yorkers of the Brooklyn Bridge - which both later turned into outstanding symbols of their cities.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also attended the ceremony, but his speech was taped in advance and broadcast on a huge screen. Thousands booed at the start of his speech, and the catcalls did not end until the speech did.
Another crisis arose as a dance group performed. Even though all the women dancers were ordered to wear modest dress, ultra-Orthodox officials were outraged.
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