SAN FRANCISCO—The Waldo Tunnel, commonly referred to as The Rainbow Tunnel, has officially been re-named in honor of late actor, Robin Williams. The California Senate approved the tunnel’s new name on Thursday, July 2, to commemorate Williams for his legacy and contribution to the San Francisco Bay Area’s local acting and comedy community. Williams died on August 11, 2014 in his Tiburon home.
The idea to rename the tunnel after Williams initially began as an online petition started by Julie Wainwright on change.org. Wainwright did not know Williams personally, but was a neighbor of his and lives a few miles from his Tiburon home in Marin County, California. She stated that she was “mourning the death of the immensely talented entertainer… Robin wasn’t just an international icon — he was an integral part of our community here in the Bay Area. We claim him as our own.” She started the petition to honor a person she considered important to the community “for the joy he brought to the world and to bring awareness to the silent illness that eventually took his life.”
Within one week of starting the petition, Wainwright had contacted Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, for state support. Levine had advised Wainwright to contact the Williams Family to “make sure this [was] the most proper way to honor him.” The petition was fully embraced by the Williams Family, and has since earned nearly 62,000 petitioners.
In December 2014, Levine brought the bill to legislation, which was unanimously passed on March 27, and was sent to the assembly appropriations committee for review. The resolution was finally approved on July 2. Wainwright also instigated efforts to raise money to make sign changes, which cost approximately $3,000. Wainwright is underwriting the effort with her company The RealReal, a luxury consignment online fashion firm. New signs for The Robin Williams Tunnel are expected to be up by fall.