VIRGINIA BEACH - Va. Beach City Council will take proposals from private companies on extending light rail into the resort city.

At Tuesday night's meeting, members decided they wanted to see what, if any, private groups would be interested in building the five-mile section from Newtown Road in Norfolk to Rosemont Road.

They already have on bid - from a group that includes former HRT head and VDOT commissionerPhilip Shucet, who contends the private sector can build the rail line faster and cheaper.

City Manager Jim Spore recommended that private businesses be given a chance to compete for the work.

City Councilman John Moss said, 'It's still public money for it, but the key is the private sector can build and construct and operate it at a lower cost than government, I believe that's true. And, I look forward for the other proposals that will come in.'

Virginia Beach resident Jimmy Frost spoke at the meeting in support of light rail. Frost admitted he used to be against light rail in general.

' the detractors of light rail they would claim it would bring crime to Virginia Beach. I would say I hope a criminal is dumb enough to use light rail to make his get-away because everything is caught on camera.'

The vote does not commit the city to building the line or choosing a private company. Bids would be accepted for three months. A task force would then look at the proposals and make a recommendation to the city.

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