VIRGINIA BEACH -- 62% of voters in the resort city voted in favor of the city looking further into expanding light rail.

The referendum on light rail in Virginia Beach is non-binding, but it does give the city the green light to take the next steps toward extending light rail from the Newtown Road station in Norfolk out to the beach.

Many voters said it was one of their most important issues on the ballot.

'I believe that the light rail will bring more business to the city and just improve the business for everybody,' said Debbie Wong.

'It's something that needs to happen because of the transportation problems and everything,' said Jim Richards.

The passing of this referendum marks a shift in public opinion towards light rail. A similar referendum was defeated in 1999.

With the Tide in Norfolk surpassing two million riders in October, supporters believe that people now see how it can help solve the area's transportation problems.

'I think people see this as a way to alleviate some of the congestion on our highways and it's also a lifestyle change it brings connectivity within our city and to our city,' said Aubrey Lane.

Mayor Will Sessoms, who was elected for another term, is a big supporter of light rail, but he said it is not a done deal.

'It doesn't mean that light rail is going to happen we will do a thorough analysis we'll find out what the public wants to do and also we'll find out if the federal and state funding's available and then we'll make our decision,' said Mayor Sessoms.

The city will have to complete a study on light rail that will be finished in 2012 before anything else happens.

Information on the light rail process is on the Hampton Roads Transit Website.

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