Community members packed the Hercules City Council chamber on July 10 as council members unanimously adopted a resolution urging the State Legislature to name a section of Highway 4 after the late Mayor Joe Eddy McDonald, who had campaigned to widen the dangerous stretch of highway that had taken the life of his daughter and niece.
McDonald, who died on June 9, won a seat on the council in December 2006, serving as vice mayor in 2008 and as mayor in 2009.
Speakers at the council meeting who spoke in favor of the resolution included Black American Political Action Committee’s (BAPAC) representative Kevin Hampton, Hercules Planning Commissioner Richard Mitchell, San Pablo City Councilman Paul Morris and County Supervisors Federal Glover and John Gioia.
“Joe Eddy McDonald earned respect, admiration and gratitude of the community and is deserving of special recognition and highest commendation of the people of the State of California,” said Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Instruction in a written statement.
McDonald and his wife lost their 25-year-old daughter Kimaree and niece, Tiffane Spencer, 17, on Oct. 3, 1994, in a head-on crash with a big rig on the winding two-lane stretch of Highway 4 in West Contra Costa County commonly known as “Blood Alley.” The two young women were killed instantly.
Vowing to keep others from suffering the same tragic fate, the McDonalds started a campaign to widen and divide the two-lane stretch of Highway 4, collecting over 10,000 signatures on a petition to state lawmakers.
The couple made countless presentations to government agencies and organized a community walk to the Hercules City Council, carrying wooden crosses wrapped in yellow ribbons that represented accident victims killed on the roadway since the 1970s.
The Highway 4 West Project was eventually awarded $86 million, in large part due to the McDonalds efforts.