Assembly Dems block bill to rename Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to the beloved ‘Tappan Zee Bridge’

April 25, 2023

New York Post

By Zach Williams

ALBANY – A bipartisan bill to rename the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge the Tappan Zee Bridge bit the dust in the state Assembly on Tuesday.

“I am disappointed that the bill did not make it out of committee,” Assemblyman John McGowan (R-Rockland) told The Post after Transportation Committee Democrats voted to hold the bill.

The vote marks the second time in two years that Assembly Democrats have blocked the legislation — despite the apparent popularity of ditching the Cuomo name.

Disgraced ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly strong-armed state lawmakers in 2017 into naming the new trans-Hudson River bridge replacing the beloved Tappan Zee after his father, a liberal lion who served three terms as governor in the 1980s and 1990s.

“The residents of Rockland did not have an opportunity to weigh in when the bridge was renamed initially and again, have been denied the opportunity to allow a full debate on the floor of the Assembly,” McGowan lamented Tuesday.

Assembly Transportation Committee Chair William Magnarelli (D-Syracuse) suggested the projected costs of renaming the 3-mile-long structure weighed heavily on legislators Tuesday.

New signage alone could mean millions of dollars that could be spent on more pressing matters, according to the Syracuse Democrat.

“I believe the majority of the committee felt they were OK with keeping the naming of the bridge for the late Gov. Mario Cuomo and not incurring any more expense for the taxpayers of New York,” Magnarelli said.

That is little solace to Hudson Valley residents who have felt the bridge should have stuck with the traditional name of Tappan Zee, which comes from the moniker of a local Indian tribe and the Dutch word for “sea,” according to a legislative memo.

Decades of habits are hard to shake for the residents, who say they will call the bridge by Tappan Zee no matter what the official name is.

“Call me an originalist — but to me, it’ll always be the Tappan Zee,” Rockland native Sarah Donnelly told The Post in February.

The bill now faces seemingly tough odds to getting approved before the scheduled end of the 2023 legislative session June 8, with Gov. Kathy Hochul declining to take a stand on the matter unless the idea gets passed by the Democratic supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly.

State Sen. James Skoufis (D-Woodbury) said Tuesday he “will prioritize this bill and many others” after a state budget gets finalized.

And on the Assembly side, McGowan said he will keep up the fight to rename the bill despite the defeat he suffered Tuesday.

“I will continue to pursue this legislation and will not back down to restore the rightful name of the Tappan Zee Bridge,” he said.