Willie Brown now namesake of Bay Bridge western span

Controversial naming comes as engineers seek solutions to bridge leaks

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.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News, contributed to this report.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 8:41 am

Broken bolts, bad concrete and leaks. Now that's a tribute to be proud of!! LMAO.

Like this comment
Posted by Daveg
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:02 am

Daveg is a registered user.

It really is a farce to have anything named after a political hack like Willie Brown! Would have been much more significant to have it named after one of our brave men and/or women that have served this country so admirably.

Like this comment
Posted by Really!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:19 am

Agree with Citizen! 6.2 billions?, broken bolts, bad concrete and leaks. Now that's a tribute to be proud of! What a great way to remember that Emperor Willie! Really! The only contribution I can think of Emperor Willie made to the Bay Area is political corruption, downfall of family values, illegal immigration, and fiscal irresponsibility of tax dollars?!

Like this comment
Posted by Julia
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:19 am

Let be known that Citizen and Daveg said it right.

But naming this disaster after Willie Brown is very fitting.

And Ed Lee supports the naming of the over-priced hunk of junk Willie Brown...Ed Lee folks is just a little man with know gut opinion about those of us who know him know he is just a little puppet jumping around to the pull of the puppeteers strings.

I really think naming this that bridge Willie Brown is super perfect but a dishonor to the taxpayers.

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo California

Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:20 am

JT is a registered user.

Seems like the eastern span would be named after a renowned and celebrated Oakland or East Bay public figure. Name the western span after Wille Brown.

Like this comment
Posted by Charlie Brown
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:21 am

The bridge is partly crooked, so I guess the name is appropriate.

Like this comment
Posted by olfthfl
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 11, 2014 at 9:26 am

Charlie Brown said it all! Amen!

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 11, 2014 at 10:53 am

If you decide not to ride across the Willie Brown Jr. Bridge then STAY HOME!

I enjoy visiting San Francisco to attend various cultural events. I ride BART and it takes where I need to go. I couldn't be more pleased with services.


Like this comment
Posted by Bridge
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 11, 2014 at 2:13 pm

They are naming the Western span after Willie, not the Eastern which is the new span. Can't anyone comprehend what they read anymore?

Like this comment
Posted by right
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2014 at 8:29 am

Cholo, hitting the sauce again? What does naming a bridge after a corrupt politician have anything to do with BART and their union drones? Unless you're saying we should all ride BART to S.F. to avoid having to cross the bridge named after one of the NAALCP's favorite lackeys.

Like this comment
Posted by Gangsta Willie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:26 am

The reason that a number of people are likely confused about which part of the Bay Bridge is being named after Willie Brown (the old western span) is that this is a very poorly written article. The headline and the beginning of the article are about the naming of the western span, but then the article veers off to the subject of problems on the new eastern span. Perhaps a refresher in Journalism 101 is needed at the PW.

Naming any part of the Bay Bridge after such a notorious crook is truly disgusting. It is especially disgusting because approximately $1.5 billion of the budget overrun, and at least one year in delays, were specifically due to the self-serving actions of Willie Brown.

Perhaps rather than naming the western span after Willie Brown, he should have been strung up on the eastern span.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:30 am

Isn't the Western span of the Bay Bridge already unoffically named the James Rolph span? Jame Rolph was the longest serving mayor of San Francisco and the 27th governor of the State of California. A more fitting namesake for Willie Brown would be the mud flat parking lots of Candlestick Park. What a ripoff. I would imagine that 50% of the cost of parking went into Brown's perasonal retirement account. Brown started his political carrer in 1965. What was California like then compared to the screwed-up disfunctional state that it has become during his leadership?

Like this comment
Posted by Scott Walsh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:39 am

Amen Bill. And the Voters are responsible. Those who voted and those who did not vote. Reap what you sew.

Like this comment
Posted by Bridge
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

The only people confused are those that can't comprehend a simple sentence. Improving the journalism capabilities would only confuse them more.

Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 12, 2014 at 10:18 am

JT is a registered user.

My bad. Have they decided on a name for the new span? My money is on Jerry Brown.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Feb 12, 2014 at 11:37 am

GOVERNOR Brown supported unions...that's why I appreciate him!

Lets keep it simple!

Naming the bridge after former Governor Brown has got everybody SMILING!


Like this comment
Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm

What a bunch of morons here...the western portion of the bridge is being named after Willie Brown. That is the OLD portion. The new eastern span with all the problems hasn't been named yet, and will likely be named after Schwarzenegger...hahaha

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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