Matt Brown,THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Supporters of a plan to build a park and bike path network on a strip of vacant land through southeast Santa Rosa — property once eyed for a Highway 12 extension — were buoyed by developments in Sacramento this week that could accelerate the transfer of the 55 acres from the state highway system to the Southeast Greenway campaign.
The work of removing the freeway designation from Farmers Lane to Melita Road advanced on parallel tracks in the state Senate and the California Transportation Commission as local transportation officials backed the efforts and Greenway advocates met with Caltrans to discuss the logistics of a land transfer.
“We’re starting to talk in more detail about how the property might be transferred,” said Steve Rabinowitsh, a former Santa Rosa city councilman and member of the Greenway campaign. “There’s a lot happening.”
State transportation planners bought the southeast Santa Rosa land in the 1950s and 60s when the area of the city was sparsely developed. The intent was to build a two-mile freeway bypass from Farmers Lane over Spring Lake rejoining Highway 12 near Oakmont.
Spring Lake has since become a county park and popular recreation area and Bennett Valley neighborhoods filled in around the land planned for the freeway. Santa Rosa residents resoundingly rejected the bypass, including a bridge over Spring Lake, saying it would be environmentally damaging and unnecessary.