Following last June’s vote in the State Assembly, the Marin County tunnel formerly known as the “Waldo Tunnel” has officially taken its new name, the Robin Williams Tunnel. The tunnel, which connects Sausalito and Mill Valley along 101, was renamed after the late comedian following a popular Change.org petition championed by Assemblyman Marc Levine. The signs marking the tunnel in honor of the star — who, although not born in Marin County, moved to the area with his family at age 16 — went up on February 29, reports KRON 4.
Nanu Nanu! New R Williams Tunnel – US 101 at SF Golden Gate Bridge. First day of service. @CaltransHQ #RobinWilliams pic.twitter.com/w6OWyUJTrs
— Caltrans District 4 (@CaltransD4) March 2, 2016
Williams took his own life in 2014, and at the time of his death was silently suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. It was only a few months after his passing that the bill to rename the tunnel is his honor went to the State Assembly.
“Robin Williams was a friend to the North Bay community of the San Francisco Bay area,” reads the text of the bill. “He would often drop in unannounced at comedy nights at the 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley. There he would encourage young, budding comedians. He did so with kindness and humility and many comedians aspired to perform with the same level of wit and insight as Robin Williams.”
For his part, Williams apparently had some choice things to say about the tunnel — commenting on the nature of Marin County in the process.
“People going into Marin County say ‘my god, look at that little rainbow! Isn’t that cute?’ No, they lied to you. It’s an ethnic detector. * BEEP BEEP BEEP* ‘We have two negroes headed south.'”
The tunnel was painted its iconic rainbow colors by two Caltrans workers in the 1970’s, who did it without the permission or knowledge of their superiors. After an immediate positive public response, the agency decided to leave it.
By Jack Morse