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Cuomo, Clinton Open The Mario Cuomo Bridge's Second Span

UPDATE 9/8/18:  Authorities have delayed the opening of the second span of the Mario Cuomo Bridge, reportedly prompted by fears that the old Tappan Zee Bridge was in danger of collapse. Boat traffic was halted beneath the span.

New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll issued a statement Saturday morning:

"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. 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."

A new era began in the Hudson Valley Friday as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stood at a podium on the eastbound span of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Another Westchester County resident — Secretary Hillary Clinton — also spoke at the grand opening.

Before speaking, Governor Cuomo drove across the new bridge in a ceremonial first ride in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1932 Packard. His mother, Matilda Cuomo, was in the passenger seat. Cuomo then aimed some of his remarks at President Donald Trump.

“As the largest infrastructure project in the nation, I think this project is of national significance,” Cuomo said. "And at a time when the president is obsessed with his singular goal of building a wall, this bridge stands in defiant opposition.” 

Cuomo’s urging continued.

“Mr. President, stop your quest to build a wall and start building bridges,” Cuomo said.

Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, said it’s fitting that the bridge is named for Andrew Cuomo’s late father, former Governor Mario Cuomo.

“Well, today, probably more than ever, or, at least for a very long time, we could use Mario’s voice and his moral clarity calling us to be at our best. He did it in poetry and in prose,” said Clinton. “And now, every time hundreds of thousands of people every week cross this bridge, they will be reminded of that.”

Clinton’s former boss, then President Barack Obama, stood in Tarrytown in 2014, soon after the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge was under way. Clinton says she followed the bridge’s progress while serving in the Obama administration.

“New York has a proud tradition of serving as a beacon, not only for the rest of our country, but the rest of the world,” Clinton said. “And today, once again, New York is leading the way, proving that if you build it, they will come, and showing we know how to get it done.”

The westbound side opened about a year ago. The 3.1-mile bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester Counties will serve more than 140,000 motorists daily. Work to shift four lanes of Westchester-bound traffic to the new span was set to begin Friday night, weather permitting, with the first cars crossing early Saturday. Again, Clinton.

“I couldn’t help but think about that classic New York song, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. Well, if you can build it there, you can build it anywhere,” Clinton said. “And it is time for the United States of America to take another look at what is getting done here in New York and follow this example.”

Democratic Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

“I was in the county legislature here in Westchester in the late 90s and the early 2000s, and I remember meeting with my counterparts in Rockland. We knew we had a deteriorated Tappan Zee Bridge. We knew it wouldn’t last another 20 years. But we were part of that group of people that said, I don’t know how we’ll ever get this done,” Latimer says. “So it’s amazing to think how impossible it would be to do it and then to actually see it done. And this is an example of what government can do. It’s never easy. There’s controversy along the way. This is not cheap, but it got done, and that is a great statement for the future.”

Again, Cuomo.

“If you have any question as to what can be done, if you have any doubt as to the constructive path forward, then just look to New York, Mr. President,” Cuomo said. “You know where it is, and New York will show you the direction up.”

Democratic Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano made the trip from Orange County.

“I think it’s an important thing for New York, economic development purposes, but the governor’s words are so special today because as Trump is building walls, he’s building bridges,” said DeStefano.

The nearly $4 billion Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge across the Hudson River.

Republican Rockland County Executive was unable to attend the event, but provided comments. “The opening of the second span of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge marks yet another significant milestone in this administration’s efforts to transform New York’s infrastructure. Not only will New Yorkers and tourists be able to enjoy a quicker, safer commute on this new bridge, it has the potential to spur economic development in the region for decades to come. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and all the hard-working men and women who made this day possible.”

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