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BRIDGE TOLLS.JPGA group of legislators is proposing to name the western span of the Bay Bridge after former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 65 recognizes Brown's accomplishments, which include two terms as mayor of San Francisco, by naming the western span the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Bridge.

"He was able to bridge all kinds of people and I think he is very deserving of this," said Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, a co-author on ACR 65. "The caveat is that it is unfortunate that they are only naming the bridge that needs the most work after him. As I understand it, that span needs the most repairs."

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is due to open later this year. The project has been embroiled in controversy involving faulty materials and questionable testing procedures, as reported in a series of stories by Charles Piller in The Sacramento Bee.

Brown was mayor of San Francisco when Gov. Pete Wilson signed legislation doubling tolls of five San Francisco Bay area bridges to pay for seismic upgrading and repairs on the Bay Bridge in 1997. Brown battled with lawmakers over the design and location of the bridge, which led to years of delays. In a column in the San Francisco Chronicle in February, Brown said it was worth the wait.

Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, and 10 co-authors introduced the resolution Wednesday to name the western span after Brown.

"Willie Brown has been a trailblazer in so many ways," said Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, who returned to the Capitol this week after a three week absence. Holden has been out on bereavement leave following the death of his mother, as well as a medical leave.

"My mom always said give people flowers while they can still smell them," Holden said. "(Brown) has touched so many lives in a positive way."

* NOTE: This version has been updated to delete a portion of a quote by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, who said she misspoke.

PHOTO: California Gov. Pete Wilson, center, talks with San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, second from left, after the governor signed legislation doubling tolls of five San Francisco Bay area bridges as Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, left, Bill Lockyer, D-Hayward , and Quentin Kopp, I-San Francisco, right, listen Wednesday, Aug. 20, 1997, on Treasure Island, Calif., in the San Francisco Bay. The increased tolls are to pay for seismic upgrading and repairs on the Bay Bridge, shown in background. Associated Press//Thor Swift


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