Numbers behind projected growth from possible Virginia Beach light rail extension

Posted at 12:00 AM, Nov 07, 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It would be just 3.5 miles to extend the Tide from Newtown Road in Norfolk to Town Center in Virginia Beach, a small distance, but one that shows a great divide across the city and region.

Voters will have their chance to say whether they support extending the light rail on Tuesday.

This non-binding vote has drawn a lot of attention.

The latest projections say it will cost $243.1 million to extend the light rail, with the city contributing nearly $90 million of that.

William Harrell, President and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit, promises it'd be money well spent.

"We encourage everyone to get out and vote," said Harrell. "We believe this is a good investment for Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads."

Supporters of the project say it would help bring jobs and more development to the city. Opponents don't think it's worth the cost.

City Treasurer John Atkinson leads the campaign against it. "Look at this. This is Town Center," Atkinson told a reporter by the development's fountain. "Light rail had nothing to do with it. Why do they need it now?"

News 3 uncovered hundreds of pages of never before seen documents and emails showing how the city got to the numbers they say will lead to growth.

Watch our special report before you head to the polls on News 3 at 11 Monday night.