It didn't take long for the postponed opening of the Westchester span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge to become a major political issue.
Do you think the opening of the new Tappan Zee Bridge's second span was rushed for political reasons?
The New York State Thruway Authority said a piece of the old TZB became destabilized and could collapse leading to the postponement of the second span opening just hours after a lavish ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Actress Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo's opponent in the Democratic primary on Thursday, Sept. 13, called upon Cuomo to be "fully transparent" about what went wrong amid speculation the planned opening of the span was rushed so it happened before the elections.
“Safety has to come above all else, and the governor needs to be fully transparent about what happened here," Nixon said. "A ribbon-cutting ceremony should not have been held if the bridge span was not yet safe.
"There are real, reasonable questions about whether this bridge span opening was accelerated to aid the governor's campaign. Governor Cuomo needs to answer those questions swiftly, and allow for an expedited FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) process. There must also be an investigation.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, was quick to pounce on the situation.
"The closing of the second span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge due to safety concerns, just hours after its opening, is shocking," Molinaro said. "It's now clearer than ever that the bridge was opened to meet Gov. Cuomo's political timetable without regard to public safety.
"Our first priority must be the safety of motorists and to ensure that the entirety of the new bridge is safe and that deconstruction of the old span can be completed without danger."
The opening of the Westchester-bound span on the new bridge had been planned for late Friday into Saturday. It is now unclear when it will open.
"In continued disassembly of the old Tappan Zee Bridge last night, a potentially dangerous situation developed where a piece of the old bridge has become destabilized and could fall," Matthew Driscoll, the executive director of the thruway authority, said in a statement Saturday morning.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after the elaborate ceremony in which Cuomo touted the new bridge's opening in full. Among those attending the flamboyant festivities was former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton of Chappaqua. (Watch a video of the ceremony above.)
"Given its proximity to the new completed span, out of an abundance of caution, motorists will remain in the current traffic configuration until a thorough evaluation by Tappan Zee Constructors is complete," Driscoll said. "The second span is finished and ready to open to traffic as soon as the Thruway Authority is assured there is no risk to the new span."
Molinaro also retweeted a photo of Cuomo and his mother Matilda taking the first drive across the second span of the new bridge in a 1932 Packard once owned by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt and wrote above the photo "#ToneDeaf."
Molinaro had earlier chided Cuomo for pushing through the resolution to make new bridge's official name after his father, former governor Mario Cuomo.
"Andrew Cuomo blew an opportunity to honor the will of Hudson Valley families and Native American New Yorkers who want the words ‘Tappan Zee’ returned to the name of the bridge connecting Westchester and Rockland counties," Molinaro said.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition asking Cuomo to do that, citing the historic importance of the Native American Tappan tribe to the area.
“Mr. Cuomo stripped the former ‘Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge’ of its name in the middle of the night in 2017 -- without any public input -- in favor of his family name, and that was wrong," Molinaro added.
“Be assured that, as governor, I will move to return the Tappan Zee name to the bridge with full public hearings. And I will gladly find other, more appropriate ways to honor the late Gov. Cuomo.”
In Cuomo's lone debate with Nixon, the issue of the bridge name figured prominently.
“The Tappan Zee Bridge is no more,” Cuomo said, noting that a "new bridge should get a new name." But during his response to the question about restoring "Tappan Zee Bridge" as the official name, he himself referred to the new bridge as "Tappan Zee Bridge" three times.
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