Virginia Beach residents vote against light rail extension

WAVY News 10
WAVY News 10

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach residents have voted against the referendum on extending light rail from Norfolk to Town Center.

As of 10:00 p.m., election results from the City of Virginia Beach said 91,440 (57.11 percent) voted against the extension, while 68,661 (42.89 percent) voted for the referendum.

Election Results

“The voters said they don’t want light rail,” said Virginia Beach City Treasurer John Atkinson.

Atkinson lead the anti-light rail charge.

“It is very expensive. Very few people are going to use it. It is not going to eliminate congestion. People just don’t want another worthless service.”

The light rail network in Norfolk currently stretches 7.4 miles and ends at Newtown Road. Virginia Beach City Council looked at four possible light rail routes extending it into their city, finally settling on the route that would expand to Town Center, primarily because of the lower court.

HRT Extension Update – October 2016

“A lot of people just didn’t understand how this project is paid for,” said Joash Schulman with Light Rail Now. “You have to give time credit. They ran and they did what they had to do.”

Earlier Tuesday, there was a final push at polling precincts around Virginia Beach.

“It’s really a demonstration on how important it is for the region and for the city,” Schulman said.

More than 91,000 voters decided they didn’t want the Tide coming to Virginia Beach.

“I think there is existing things that can be improved,” said resident Becky Hay. “I think it has proven in other cities it’s not worth the money they put into it.”

Though there were voters who supported the prospect of having light rail in the resort city.

“If people just think of the bigger picture, light rail is good,” added resident Johnnie Lewis. “It brings in people and takes people out, it gives you a chance to see the seven cities.”

Light Rail Now was hoping the referendum would be the first step to extending the Tide to the Oceanfront, ODU, Naval Station Norfolk and the airport.

The majority of Virginia Beach City Council members stood behind the extension, but they said they will honor what the voters decide.