What’s next for light rail in Virginia Beach?

Posted at 10:26 PM, Nov 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-11-07 22:26:16-05

More than 60 percent of Virginia Beach voters gave the green light on the light rail referendum.

But if you think that means light rail is on a fast track to the Beach, pump your brakes!

“I wish I could say that, but that's not the truth,” says Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

Sessoms says the overwhelming approval of this referendum only gives city leaders leeway to explore bringing the Tide to town.

“The referendum passing in my opinion was very good. I'm happy that it did.  Now does it guarantee light rail coming to Virginia Beach? No,” says Sessoms.

He says they're waiting on a federal study on light rail to give them more insight.

Once that's done around next summer, he says they can begin applying for federal funding.

“If the federal and state money is not there, it probably will not move forward, if the federal and state money is there for rail, I think it would be a big help to us,” says Sessoms.

Virginia Beach city councilman Harry Diezel was the only councilman to vote against putting the referendum on the ballot.

He's concerned the estimated nearly one billion dollar price tag to take the Tide to Town Center and the Oceanfront would be a big burden on taxpayers.

The referendum is not binding.

That means even though voters are vying for light rail, the council doesn't have to honor their wishes.

Sessoms is hoping the referendum will lead the way for light rail in the resort city.