California State Assemblymember Marc Levine, who represents Marin, has taken up the cause of renaming the Waldo Tunnel in honor of the late Robin Williams. As Live 105 reports, with Williams' family's blessing, Levine has agreed to bring the proposal to the Assembly floor in December.
Williams, who lived the last years of his life in Tiburon, died just two months ago, and very quickly a petition was launched to get Caltrans to rename the rainbow-painted, dual-bore tunnel that connects Sausalito with the Golden Gate Bridge approach after the comedian. It seems an appropriate honor especially because of the signature rainbow suspenders worn by Williams in his breakout role on Mork & Mindy.
As of this week, petition organizer Julie Wainwright of Belvedere posted the good news that Levine had agreed to bring the name-change proposal to a vote later this year. This comes after consultation with the family, and after more than 55,000 people signed the petition.
The Waldo Tunnel was named for Gold Rush hero William Waldo, who according to legend came to the rescue of stranded immigrants attempting to cross the Sierra Nevadas in 1850. Waldo organized a relief effort to deliver supplies to the starving convoys, and became well known enough for it that he ran (unsuccessfully) for governor of California in 1853. The tunnel the first bore of which was completed in 1937, the same year the bridge opened, and the second bore was then added in 1954 was named for Waldo Grade, which was what the steep highway section leading up to it was called. If the name changes, Mr. Waldo will still have Waldo Point Harbor named for him in Sausalito.
The rainbow paint job, by the way, was the work of longtime CalTrans employee Robert Halligan, who worked as the agency's public affairs officer in the 1960s. In 1970, as his colleague Alan Hart was getting ready to retire, the two decided to paint the southern portals of the tunnel with rainbows, and did so without getting the approval of their superiors in Sacramento. As Marinscope tells us, public reaction was so positive that the Caltrans brass decided to let the rainbows remain. They've been repainted twice since then, most recently in 2009.