Renaming the Tappan Zee Bridge for his late father, Mario, was one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proudest achievements.
Now, in the wake of his resignation amid sexual harassment allegations Tuesday, many are asking if the famous span should have the Cuomo name scrubbed off.
As recently as this week, lawmakers and residents were calling for the $4 billion bridge — officially named Mario M. Cuomo Bridge after the former governor — to have its original name reinstated.
They argued the bridge should not be tainted with the Cuomo name after the scathing state Attorney General report that accused the governor of sexual harassment.
The bridge was officially renamed after former governor Mario Cuomo via a state law passed back in 2017, when an insistent Cuomo cut a deal with lawmakers.
That means any future name changes can only occur if lawmakers repeal it.
Assemblyman Mike Lawler introduced legislation last week calling for the bridge to have its rightful name back.
“I urge each and every one of my colleagues in the Assembly to back this piece of legislation that will remove the stain of Andrew Cuomo’s name from the Tappan Zee Bridge,” Lawler said in a statement.
“No one should have to drive over one of the finest pieces of architecture in our state and be reminded of the unforgivable sins of our governor.”
The bridge is considered one of Cuomo’s major achievements during his stint as governor but it has long been shrouded in controversy.
A series of petitions started by local residents have circulated over the years begging lawmakers to change the bridge’s name back to Tappan Zee.
One petition garnered nearly 166,000 signatures.
Those residents argued the name was historic give the “Tappan” referred a Native American group that lived nearby and “Zee” is Dutch for sea.
After Cuomo was elected in 2010, he started championing to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge between Rockland and Westchester counties in what would become a major infrastructure project.
In 2017, part of the new bridge opened and Cuomo started pushing lawmakers to change its name in honor of his late father.
The deal went ahead – much to the anger of some Hudson Valley residents – and the second portion of the bridge opened the following year.
At the time, Cuomo dismissed the push to change the name back as politically motivated.
“I believe it’s mean. I believe it’s vindictive. But this is the political environment we are in,” he said of the campaign back in 2017.
“My father was governor for 12 years in the state of New York. I think he is respected by Democrats and Republicans all across the board.”