VIRGINIA BEACH -- Residents packed the first of three meetings Monday night on extending light rail in Va. Beach.

The meeting was held at the Westin in Town Center.

City Council was briefed by Hampton Roads Transit CEO William Harrell last Tuesday on the cost of the project. According to preliminary numbers, extending The Tide from Newtown Road to Rosemont Road will cost approximately $380 million. With inflation, that number could rise to $440 million by 2018, he said.

The city would have to pay 25% of the cost.

An extension to the Oceanfront from Newtown Road is estimated to cost $865 million dollars today, and could rise to more than $1 billion by 2018. That's a nearly $200 million increase from a 2011 estimate and is based on inflation and a more detailed analysis of the cost to build seven bridges over roadways and water.

If you can't attend the meetings, you can submit your comments online.

The formal study on light rail to the beach is expected to be ready for public review between the fourth quarter of 2013 and the early part of 2014.

Virginia Beach voters last year approved a nonbinding referendum on the expansion of the light-rail system. Hampton Roads Transit opened The Tide in Norfolk in 2011.

The other meetings scheduled from 6:00-8:00 p.m. are:
Wednesday, September 25, at the DoubleTree off Pavilion Drive
Thursday, September 26, at the Holiday Inn off Greenwich Road

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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