Two Fairfax City Council members favoring the proposed Rte. 123 bond referendum clashed Monday night with two members of a citizens group fighting the plan in a City Hall debate.

Council members Allen Griffith and Glenn White represented the city, and spokesmen Robert Lederer and Walter Stevens represented Citizens Against the Referendum (CAR), the group fighting the road bond issue, which is on the Nov. 3 ballot.

The two sides disagree on what the project will cost taxpayers, its chances of success, its effect on traffic, and whether any realistic alternatives to it can be found. Each side accuses the other of not portraying the project truthfully.

The proposed project would widen Chain Bridge Road to four lanes with a median strip from Kenmore Drive to Warwick Avenue, and make Chain Bridge one way south between Kenmore Drive and Judiciary Drive. University Drive would be made one way north and rebuilt between Judicial Drive and Layton Hall Drive. Other changes would include extending Layton Hall Drive to Kenmore Drive, extending Judicial Drive to University Drive and landscaping median strips and sidewalks.

The city proposes to sell $15 million in bonds to pay for the project. Proponents say that at a projected 7 percent interest rate, the total cost would be $28 million. But the bond's detractors point out that the authorization allows for an interest rate of up to 12 percent for up to 30 years, and the total cost could in theory run to $56 million. White says the purpose of this extra authorization is to allow the city to trade off length of term against interest rate for the best deal possible, but opponents are still wary of the possible cost.

Another controversial issue is whether making Chain Bridge Road and University Drive one way will cause an increase in high-speed traffic, or divert commuters from shortcuts into residential communities. Here again, both sides claim the other is making misleading claims.

"There is a great deal of emotion on this issue {the referendum}. There seems to be strong opposition," said council member Dorris Reed, who "strongly" favors the project. "It has a chance," she said, "{but} it's going to be a tough fight."

Like other council members who voted for the referendum, she said the plan was not perfect. But she says the opposition has not come up with anything better. "They do not have an alternative plan . . . . They do not wish to do anything."

CAR member Fred McCoy said the group does not have a particular plan because its members have different opinions about the proposed alternatives.

"There's probably three or four or five different solutions to the problem," he said. CAR members "decided we would not talk about a solution because it was too diverse a group."

He said he would prefer simply widening Chain Bridge Road, a relatively cheap alternative, but one that some say would damage the wooded Rust Curve, a symbol of Fairfax City's small-town character.

But McCoy said the City Council chose the present plan because it was the only option that a majority of council members would support. "They made it because they thought it would pass the onus of responsibility on to the voters," he said.