Fairfax City Council member John Mason, the only councilman to oppose the proposed Rte. 123 road bond, Tuesday announced an alternative in an attempt to counter supporters of the bond referendum who say there is no realistic option.

He suggested that the city work with Fairfax County to develop a bypass west of the city along Shirley Gate Road. He also proposed limited widening of Rte. 123, and installing traffic lights and other measures to keep through traffic from residential areas.

"The approach must be regional," he said. "The county in time will come to recognize it's in the county's interest to have Shirley Gate as the bypass to Rte. 123."

The City Council voted 5 to 1 in June to put the $15 million Rte. 123 road bond referendum on Tuesday's ballot. The measure calls for widening Chain Bridge Road (Rte. 123) to four lanes with a median strip between Kenmore Drive and Warwick Avenue, and making it southbound only from Kenmore Drive to Judicial Drive. University Drive would be rebuilt and made northbound only from Judicial Drive to Layton Hall Drive.

Mason, at a City Hall news conference, suggested using $1 million in regular road budget funds to widen Chain Bridge Road between Kenmore Drive and Warwick Avenue from two lanes to two lanes with a median for left turns. City officials would work with county and state agencies to develop a bypass, which would need county cooperation. In the meantime, the city would develop a plan to keep commuters and through drivers out of residential areas by creating cul-de-sacs, rotaries and traffic signals.

Glenn White, a City Council member who supports the bond issue, said that "every City Council since I was elected in 1972 has been working diligently with Fairfax County to try to get bypasses built around the city, and there is no movement . . . . If we wait for bypasses, we're going to be strangled by cars for a long, long time . . . . That's if we ever get a bypass."

He said Mason's plan to add a left-turn median on Chain Bridge Road would cost closer to $2 million. "It will do very little to move traffic through that strip, but it will facilitate the injection of traffic into the residential neighborhoods," he said.

Citizens Against the Referendum, a group formed to oppose the bond issue, has been unable to agree on an alternative and has not endorsed any plan, including Mason's. One leading member, Walter Stephens, said after Mason's news conference that he proposes simply to widen Chain Bridge Road's two lanes to allow left turns. "I wouldn't oppose it {Mason's suggestion}, but my way is cheaper and more effective."

As the election nears, foes of the referendum say they are confident of victory. Opponents include Mayor George Snyder Jr. and many former elected officials. The Old Town Fairfax Business Association, representing 26 downtown merchants, last week went on record against the City Council proposal.