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Senate OKs Bill To Add 'TZB' To Official Bridge Name, But Assembly Adjourns

State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-District 50/Syracuse area) comments on the bill to add "Tappan Zee" to the new bridge's official name.
State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-District 50/Syracuse area) comments on the bill to add "Tappan Zee" to the new bridge's official name. Video Credit: NYSenate

The debate over naming rights at the new Tappan Zee Bridge continues to rage, as officials remain split on the matter.

Do you think the new Tappan Zee Bridge should be named in honor of the late NY Gov. Mario Cuomo?
Final Results Voting Closed

Do you think the new Tappan Zee Bridge should be named in honor of the late NY Gov. Mario Cuomo?

  • Absolutely
  • Absolutely not
  • Not sure
  • The new bridge shouldn't be named after any person

The New York State Senate voted by a count of 40 to 20 in favor of a compromised bill to add the Tappan Zee Designation to the seldom-used official name of Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, but the Democratic-controlled State Assembly ended its annual legislative session without even putting the bill to a vote, leaving its future status uncertain at best.

The bill was first introduced by State Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-District 50/Syracuse area). The Senate’s vote came late on Wednesday night, at approximately 11:30 p.m., minutes after the Assembly ended its legislative session.

If approved, the new bridge would be dubbed the “Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.” The compromise came after more than 100,000 signatures were collected by local residents challenging the naming rights of the bridge after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed it during a late-night legislative session last year.

The battle over naming rights came to a head earlier this month, as several members of Save Our Tappan Zee, a group dedicated to preserving the bridge’s namesake, printed out a petition that garnered nearly 110,000 signatures from local residents lambasting the name “Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.”

In a statement two weeks ago, Rockland County Executive Ed Day announced his support for retaining the name “Tappan Zee” as part of the bridge’s name, offering a compromise in the form of two bills that have been submitted to the Senate.

“I strongly urge our local state representatives to respond to the demand of the people to co-sponsor and support the passage of New York State Senate bills (that) would restore the ‘Tappan Zee’ name back to our bridge whose complete name would then be the ‘Governor Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.’

“This is a viable compromise to what has become both embarrassing and insulting to the lower Hudson Valley. This common-sense solution will help restore the tradition and history of our area by honoring the Tappan Native Americans who resided here as well as the early Dutch settlers. In a time when so much of the world around us is changing it is so important that we retain a true sense of our history; these bills will help us do exactly that.”

Ever since Cuomo announced the designation of Mario M. Cuomo Bridge as the official name for the new Tappan Zee span, the vocal outcry against the name has been heard loudly and often, including the petition , which was started by Port Chester resident Monroe Mann last year.

The petition, which has made national news, calls for the bridge to be returned to its original name, the Tappan Zee, claiming that “the bridge is our history.” It also says "it sounds cool to say, 'I'm taking the Tappan Zee" and not cool "to say, 'I'm taking the Cuomo.’"

In a Daily Voice poll that saw more than 20,000 votes cast, 70 percent of readers said that the bridge should not be named after Cuomo, while 22 percent said it should not be named after any one person. Just 6 percent supported the current official name of the bridge.

The bill to rename the bridge for the elder Cuomo was introduced at the end of a long legislative session by a Suffolk County state senator. It came under immediate criticism by both residents and local politicians.

In the past, Cuomo has called the petition “vindictive,” “hurtful,” and "mean," citing “ugly political times” for the reason so many have been so outspoken against the official designation of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

“The bill passed overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans," Cuomo's said. "Something like 90 percent. And that’s heartwarming because those are people who knew my father, those are people who worked with my father, and they’re not hyper-partisans who are part of this campaign.

"It’s a brand-new bridge. It deserved a new name. When you build something new, you normally give it a new name.”

No matter what happens next, one thing is certain. You'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who calls the new Tapan Zee Bridge by its official name of Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, just as few referred to the old TZB by its official name that honored another late governor, Yonkers native Malcolm Wilson.

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