Former San Francisco Mayor and state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown is now the namesake of the western span of the Bay Bridge following a
ceremony on Treasure Island Tuesday.
Hundreds of people came out for Tuesday's ceremony, which overlooked the new Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge linking Yerba Buena Island to San Francisco.
The bridge was renamed for Brown via a resolution passed by the state Legislature last September. Brown served as a member of the state Assembly from 1965 to 1995 and as Assembly Speaker from 1980 to the end of his tenure. He then was elected mayor and served from 1996 to 2004.
"I am honored and grateful," Brown said to a crowd that included Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Attorney General Kamala Harris, various other city and state officials and San Francisco Giants president Larry Baer, among others.
"I am just delighted and will continue to be delighted," he said. "I'll practice bragging rights every time I get a chance."
Tuesday's celebration came as Caltrans officials expressed concern over leaks on a short section of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, but said they're hopeful they can figure out a solution to the problem soon.
"It's something that we're taking seriously but we're aggressively investigating it and we're confident that we'll solve it," Caltrans spokesman
Andrew Gordon said while taking reporters on a tour of the span.
A recent routine maintenance inspection revealed that rainwater is dripping into the steel structure beneath the road deck on the 0.3-mile
self-anchored suspension portion of the bridge, Gordon said.
The concern is that the leaks could cause corrosion at some point in the future, he said.
"We don't want this to continue for the life of the bridge," Gordon said, noting that the $6.4 billion new eastern span, which just opened
on Labor Day, is expected to last at least 100 years.
Caltrans officials haven't yet determined how the rainwater is getting in or the exact location where the water is leaking.
"We're exploring all possibilities of how it got in and all possible locations for where it has gotten in," Gordon said.
Caltrans Chief Deputy Director Richard Land took reporters to one area where a small amount of water is dripping, which is underneath westbound
road deck a short distance east of Yerba Buena Island.
Pointing to bolts inside the bridge deck, Land said, "There's a drip here every once in a while but there are no locations where there is running water and some bolts aren't leaking at all."
Land said, "We hope to figure out a solution in the next several weeks."
Gordon said the bridge is safe and said Caltrans officials aren't surprised that water is going beneath the road deck, saying, "We expected water to get in somewhere."
Gordon said there are three levels of protection for the steel structure underneath the road deck: caulking, epoxy coating and the roadbed itself.
"You protect the bridge as best as you can," he said.
Gordon said Caltrans should have a better idea of where and how the water is getting in now that it's finally begun to rain heavily.
"During the rainy period we hope to get a sense of how it's getting in," he said.
Engineers "scoured" the bridge over the weekend to see what they could discover," Gordon added.
The leaks are only one of several problems that have plagued the new eastern span.
Last March, about one third of the 96 bolts that secure earthquake shock absorbers known as shear keys to the deck of the eastern span failed when they were tightened. The shear keys are designed to prevent swaying during an earthquake.
The problem threatened to delay plans to open the new eastern span over Labor Day weekend last year but transportation officials figured out a short-term fix that enabled the span to open on time after all and a permanent fix for the problem was completed in December.
The cost of fixing the bolt problems was about $25 million.
Gordon said Monday that although the leaking problem is "a complex issue to solve" he doesn't think it's as serious as the bolt issue.
With regard to Tuesday's noontime ceremony in renaming the bridge for Willie Brown, current San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said that he supported the renaming of the bridge after Brown.
"I'm excited about it," Lee said. "Willie has had such an illustrious history, not only with us in San Francisco but with the state Legislature."
However, the renaming of the bridge has drawn criticism from some who say Brown was to blame for some of the delays and high costs associated with the construction of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, which opened last September.
One critic, local ethics watchdog Bob Planthold, even filed a lawsuit seeking to block the renaming of the bridge.
The lawsuit alleges that the Legislature bypassed several of its policies to fast-track the approval of the resolution and did not allow for adequate public input on the name change.
The state's Office of Legislative Counsel has responded to the lawsuit by saying the houses of the state Legislature have the "exclusive
constitutional authority to make, amend, or waive their own procedural rules."
The case is scheduled to be in court on March 18 at the Civic Center Courthouse in San Francisco.
Signage indicating the new name for the bridge is going on the entrances to its western span and is being paid for via private fundraising by the California NAACP.