Fairfax City voters yesterday rejected by almost a 3-to-1 margin the City Council's proposal to sell $15 million worth of bonds to widen congested Rte. 123 within the city limits.

With all precincts counted, the referendum failed by 3,817 votes against the proposal to 1,373 for it.

"We're obviously very pleased," said Robert Lederer, chairman of Citizens Against the Referendum, at a victory party for the measure's opponents. "The citizens voted against a poorly thought out plan."

The bond issue would have financed widening of Chain Bridge Road (Rte. 123) between Kenmore Drive and Warwick Avenue, and made sections of Chain Bridge Road one-way southbound and University Drive one-way northbound. Opponents argued it might cost $41 million in interest, disrupt residential areas with high-speed traffic and divert customers from downtown businesses.

It is now unclear how the city will handle traffic growth. John Mason, the only council member against the proposal, suggested adding a left-turn lane on Chain Bridge Road while working with Fairfax County on a route around the city.

"Everybody and his brother is going to interpret the vote in a different way," said Lederer. "Some people will say it was a vote for doing nothing at all. I think it was a vote just against a bad plan."