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Sonoma County Board of Supervisors OK airport expansion

  • A Horizon Air flight is guided in to the gate area at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, Wednesday Jan. 18, 2012. Horizon is dropping their Las Vegas destination and adding San Diego. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday formally approved the $84 million project to expand Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport to enable more daily commercial flights.

The project next goes to federal officials who must sign off before any construction begins.

The board's 4-0 decision came with a minor change to include analysis of public health and the environment in a future planned study of impacts associated with the expansion.

Supervisor Mike McGuire, who represents the airport area, pushed strongly for the condition, saying the Windsor area would bear the brunt of construction activity and other impacts associated with airport growth.

Three other supervisors ultimately agreed to the additional study work, which is set to happen when the county-owned facility reaches about 474,000 passengers per year, more than double its current level. Supervisor Valerie Brown was absent Tuesday, attending to a family health situation.

The formal approval came two weeks after the board's preliminary endorsement of the project and roughly 13 years after the county launched its latest move toward expanding the airport.

In the short term, the project calls for $42.7 million in safety upgrades that would extend the main runway by 885 feet to 6,000 feet and add 200 feet to the second runway.

Over a longer term, the airport would add a new passenger terminal, control tower, air cargo facility and other upgrades. The timing of those improvements depends on attracting more airlines to the county-owned airport.

About 95 percent of the expansion costs, including the short and long-term upgrades, would be financed with federal aviation grants.

The airport's lone commercial carrier, Alaska Airlines, currently offers five flights a day. The upgrades would allow up to 21 flights daily, a threshold authorized by the county's general plan but not possible with the current infrastructure.


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