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Supporters of light rail extension hold rally

Posted at 11:19 PM, Nov 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-02 23:19:01-05

Norfolk, Va. - Trying to turn the tide over the debate about extending light rail, a few dozen people met for a rally Monday night on the night before election day.

Supporters signed up to be at polling places on Tuesday. They're hoping to discourage people from signing a petition to make a referendum vote on the 2016 ballot. That petition was started by opponents of the extension.

"We have one day as an opportunity to stand there as a cheerleader and as an ambassador," said Will Christopher, who organized the rally.

Right now, the light rail runs to Newtown Road in Norfolk. The most talked about extension would bring it to Town Center in Virginia Beach, but there is a campaign against it. It's led by the city treasurer, John Atkinson.

"I think light rail is a horribly expensive project in Virginia Beach and no one is going to use," said Atkinson. He came by the meeting, but didn't go inside. Instead, he talked with Christopher outside. "I think it's a group of good intended people. They want to support their city. I can understand that. Likewise, I live in Virginia Beach. I don't want to pay for it," said Atkinson.

The debate is far from over. Supporters of the extension just hope others can hear their messages: that light rail is forward thinking and they believe it would help cut-down on traffic. "Even though there's going to be cost involved, it's going to be one of those cost investments you make in the future," said retired Fr. Jim Parke.

Related: 

Virginia Beach city council decides against shifting money away from light rail

Virginia Beach City Council votes for light rail extension