Last-ditch efforts are under way to add “Tappan Zee” to the name of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Bills in the Assembly and Senate are backed by nearly 110,000 petition signatures, though the measures are not very far along in the legislative process and the session ends next week.
Republican Mahopac Assemblyman Kevin Byrne in December said he was introducing a bill to revert the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to its original name — the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. The assemblyman also said he was amenable to keeping Mario Cuomo’s name and, in fact, ended up sponsoring a compromise bill to rename the bridge the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee.
“This is now a legislative compromise that would include the governor’s late father’s name so we could continue to Mario Cuomo’s legacy, but not strike out history, not erase the proud heritage that people enjoy and appreciate from the Tappan tribe or the early Dutch settlers with the name Tappan Zee,” Byrne says.
Byrne’s bill has a number of co-sponsors, including two Republicans from the Hudson Valley — Karl Brabenec and Kieran Lalor. In June 2017, the New York state Legislature approved naming the new 3.1-mile span from Rockland County to Westchester County for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s late father. Port Chester attorney Monroe Mann started a petition on change.org to include “Tappan Zee,” and members of a group called Save Our Tappan Zee delivered nearly 110,000 petition signatures to Governor Cuomo in Albany last week. Republican Rockland County Executive Ed Day recently met with Mann and signed the petition.
“The governor has to really understand that this is basically embarrassing and insulting to the entire lower Hudson Valley, as witnessed by 110,000 petition signatures,” Day says.
Plus, he says:
“His father renamed the bridge, back in 1994, the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. He recognized that history was important and not to rip the name out of the bridge. I’m asking Governor Cuomo to do the same thing. I’m asking him to do exactly what his dad would do,” Day says. “I can think of no greater tribute to pay to his father than to understand exactly what the impact and import of this renaming that was done in the dead of night has done to the people of this region.”
A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a request for comment. Byrne, whose district includes parts of Putnam and Westchester Counties, says it is unacceptable to ignore the opinions of more than 100,000 people.
“Not only is, it’s a sensible compromise that the governor should be able to embrace, it had the ability to save millions of dollars in taxpayer money from not having to change the Tappan Zee signs on the Thruway, on the Taconic State Parkway, on [I-] 287on the Hutchinson River Parkway,” Byrne says.
Republican Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco sponsors the bill in the Senate. Again, Day.
“I hear that our representatives will support this bill if it comes to the floor. Look, I was a part-time legislator for a while. I understand,” Day says. “The fact of the matter is, if you support something, put our name on it. It also tells your colleagues that you support it. A representative from Buffalo is not going to be impressed with a bill that does not have local representation sponsorship.”
Day was a county legislator. Democratic state Senator David Carlucci, whose district includes the Rockland side of the bridge, voiced support in December for adding “Tappan Zee” to the name. His spokeswoman says Carlucci supports the name change bill, adding that a lawmaker does not have to co-sponsor a bill to vote in favor of it. Meantime, Byrne says he, too, hears that several area state lawmakers from both sides of the aisle plan to vote in favor of the measures. The Senate version has more momentum, having passed the Transportation Committee.