A New York state Democrat has taken up the charge pushing for the Mario Cuomo Bridge to revert to its original name, the Tappan Zee Bridge.
“This is nothing against the Cuomos,” State Sen. James Skoufis, D-Woodbury, said. He added that the process to originally rename the bridge was “unseemly” and that he would support dedicating another bridge, tunnel or roadway to the former New York governor.
“There was no public input, there was no feedback outreach. And if they had done that outreach, they would have heard, the governor’s office, that people did not want the name to change,” Skoufis added. “And so we’re trying to right this wrong with this bill.”
The three-mile bridge originally bore the name Tappan Zee since it opened in 1955 but was renamed after the three-term New York governor in 2017 after a new bridge was built to replace the original. Mario Cuomo served as governor from 1983 to 1995, leaving office after the 1994 election with a loss to Republican challenger George Pataki.
Republicans have championed the renaming for several years, but Skoufis took up the charge after taking his seat and inheriting it from his predecessor, Republican Sen. Mike Martucci.
“Everyone in the Hudson Valley still calls the bridge the Tappan Zee for a reason,” Skoufis told the New York Post in February. “It’s the rightful name.”
An effort to pass the bill last term met with failure in April, but sponsors believe the bill could find greater success with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul in charge to pass the final measure.
Hochul did not commit to the measure, saying it has to “pass legislation before it gets my attention,” ABC 7 reported.
Two New York State Assembly Democrats from the Hudson Valley have voiced differing opinions on the bill, with Ken Zebrowski supporting it and MaryJane Shimsky arguing it was a distraction from “prioritizing … our time and energy to fixing more of our crumbling roads and bridges.”
Skoufis stressed the bill needs an Assembly sponsor, likely a Democrat, to help push it through the legislative body that is two-thirds Democratic. Without the sponsor, the bill would likely need to pass as an addition to the budget, due in April, or as part of an omnibus, The Journal News reported.
Four Democrats sponsored the bill in the Assembly last year, and Assemblyman John McGowan, R-Pearl River, said he would work with “anybody, Republican or Democrat,” to ensure it succeeds.
“The reality is being a Republican and trying to pass legislation is much more difficult than for my colleagues in the majority,” McGowan told the Post, adding that “good ideas are good ideas.”
The measure has gained increased support following former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual misconduct allegations. Andrew Cuomo allegedly strong-armed legislators into adopting the name as part of a late-night push in a major omnibus bill in 2017 as the structure neared completion.