Lawmakers and Citizens Urge Renaming of Mario Cuomo Bridge to Tappan Zee

It has been six years since the new bridge spanning the Tappan Zee section of Hudson River was named by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo. Named for his father, former New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo, the initial change was met with resistance—and many locals still refer to the crossing by its maiden moniker.

The old bridge was originally named to honor the Tappan, a local Native American tribe, and Zee (meaning sea) to commemorate pre-colonial Dutch settlers in the region. The Tappan Zee Bridge retained its original name for over 60 years.

In contrast, the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is a modern 3-mile twin-span bridge that stretches over the Hudson River connecting Westchester and Rockland Counties. It opened in 2017 and was named to honor the popular former-governor.

At the time, then-governor Andrew Cuomo urged state legislators to honor his father with the name change, and the change was accepted—despite local resistance from the community and members of local public office. In a statement, Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, D-Mount Pleasant, Westchester County, said of the initial change:

I think this came out of the blue,” Abinanti said. “Like, all of a sudden we’re naming a bridge? Where’d this come from? We haven’t even figured out how to pay for it yet.

Local Republican officials meanwhile questioned Cuomo’s decision to rename the structure after a politician. Of the name change, Rockland County Executive Ed Day supported residents’ concerns. “[It’s] something the people of Rockland and Westchester should be weighing in on,” he said. “It should not be determined from Albany or from Long Island.

Now, less than two years since leaving office, Andrew Cuomo is again facing criticism about the bridge’s name. A local official is renewing calls to officially bring the Tappan Zee name back. Sponsored by Democratic State Senator James Skoufis, a new bill has been drafted to toss the current name. Similar bills have been brought forward previously, but they never made it through the legislature.

The bill faces addition pressure to pass due to the recent scandals surrounding Cuomo and the sexual misconduct claims that led to his resignation as New York Governor in August, 2021. But for Skoufis, the name change is about commemorating history and the local community.

“This is strictly about righting the wrong of this name change, which everyone in the Hudson Valley wants to see happen. It’s nothing personal,” Skoufis said. “This has nothing to do with any animosity or slight towards Mario Cuomo. It just simply has to do with returning the bridge to its rightful name.”

Since 2017, a petition calling for the bridge to return to its original name has gained over 262,000 signatures.

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