<b>Cleared for take-off</b>
It's been 12 years since Sonoma County officials unveiled a runway expansion plan. Since then, the airport has lost and regained commercial service and gotten a new name, Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. The plan also morphed. A new runway was scrapped in favor of extending the main runway. The airfield also will be reconfigured to comply with federal safety regulations.
When the runway work is completed next year, the airport will be able to accommodate a new generation of smaller jets, clearing a major obstacle to air service to Phoenix or Denver, which offer better connections to destinations east of the Rockies.
A potential alternative to SFO? What can we say? Thumbs up.
<b>States of denial</b>
Keeping up with all the congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act isn't easy. Some tallies say 37, others put it at 39, a few say 67. All of them have failed. That's not a revelation. Neither is the fact that some states aren't setting up health insurance exhanges, leaving that task to the federal government.
But you might not know this: Some states are actively trying to thwart implementation of Obamacare. More than a dozen states have implemented licensing rules and other limits on anyone employed to sign people up for the health insurance program, according to the Washington Post. Missouri legislators adopted a law prohibiting local officials from doing anything to help put the program in place. A half-dozen other states won't enforce consumer protections in the law. Can you say sore losers? Thumbs down.
<b>A Spring Lake bridge fades from view</b>
The idea of a building a freeway and bridge over Spring Lake — connecting Highway 12 at Farmers Lane with Highway 12 near Melita Road — is such a relic of a bygone age that most Santa Rosans have forgotten about it. Not so with state transportation officials — until now.
For the first time, the state Department of Transportation has made clear that it has no plans for making that dreaded highway connection, and, given that, it has no need for that massive undeveloped strip of land that runs through neighborhoods from Farmers Lane to Summerfield Road.
The declaration, included in a recent draft report on the future of the Highway 12 corridor, is being cheered by advocates of a plan to convert that 50-acre ribbon of real estate into a "greenway" corridor of bike and pedestrian paths linking up with the Prince Memorial Greenway.
But hold on. The state has no plans to give away that land for free. In fact, once the property is declared as excess, the report notes, the state's obligation is to sell it "at the highest possible value."
There's the question. Will the land be valued as residential real estate or as land for a pedestrian corridor? The irony is if it's the former, the price may have just gone up — thanks to the state dropping plans for a freeway in the area.