MARTINEZ — Former state Sen. Daniel Boatwright, the Contra Costa legislator who led the fight for the money to expand Interstate 680 and to build the Highway 24 interchange, saw his name go up Tuesday in, well, reflective white paint.
"It's pretty exciting," said Boatwright, the one-time Concord mayor who served 24 years in the Legislature as one of its most influential leaders. "I am humbled and honored."
Wearing an orange safety vest and a hard hat, Boatwright spoke over the persistent din of Interstate 680 traffic. Two dozen supporters had gathered amid the dusty weeds on the freeway shoulder just south of the Benicia Bridge for the unveiling of the sign denoting the Senator Daniel E. Boatwright Commemorative Highway.
Two signs have been erected — one just south of the Benicia Bridge and a second north of the Interstate 680 interchange with Highway 24.
Private contributions covered the $6,850 cost of making and installing the signs.
The ceremony and the lunch that followed in Concord was a family and political affair, as Boatwright's wife, Teresa, sons and professional and personal friends celebrated the occasion. Four former Concord mayors were there.
Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who carried the bill that made the highway name official earlier this year, described the 80-year-old retired Democratic lawmaker as a personal mentor and a public official exceptionally worthy of recognition.
Boatwright left the Senate in 1996. During his time in Sacramento, he acted as chairman of the powerful appropriations committee. His accomplishments include the expansion of the Mt. Diablo State Park, the extension of BART to Pittsburg and funding for the Antioch Bridge.
But his decade-long campaign for state dollars to improve Interstate 680 through the heart of Contra Costa County may be his greatest contribution More than 200,000 vehicles a day pass through the Interstate 680-Highway 24 interchange.
"Before we finished the project, it was one of the worst commutes in California," said Boatwright, now of Clayton. "Traffic backed up to Martinez and Pittsburg. It was terrible for our residents."