Hochul won’t say if she’ll restore ‘Tappan Zee’ name on Mario Cuomo Bridge

Never mind a bridge, Gov. Hochul is on the fence.

The Democrat declined Tuesday to take a stand on legislation to formally strip the name “Mario M. Cuomo” from the famous bridge across the Hudson River in favor of the “Tappan Zee” legend favored by locals.

“First of all, Mario Cuomo was an extraordinary governor. But if the bill passes … I would certainly look at anything that passes at the time, but it is too premature,” Hochul told reporters after an unrelated event in White Plains.

A yearslong effort to nix the “Mario” moniker got a bipartisan jolt last week when state Sen. James Skoufs (D-Woodbury) took over as lead sponsor of the bill, originally introduced by a Republican colleague.

Skoufis has said he hopes to get the pitch approved before the regularly scheduled legislative session ends June 8.

Gov. Kathy Hochul declined to take a definitive stand Tuesday on whether the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge should be renamed the Tappan Zee Bridge per popular demand.
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Republicans say help from across the aisle is paramount for getting the bill passed in both chambers after it stalled in Democratic-dominated Albany the previous two years despite support from some progressives in the Assembly.

“The reality is being a Republican and trying to pass legislation is much more difficult than for my colleagues in the majority,” Assemblyman John McGowan (R-Pearl River), who is sponsoring the bill in his chamber, told The Post on Monday. “I’ll work with anybody, Republican or Democrat. Good ideas are good ideas.”

Disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo struck a 2017 deal with state lawmakers that allowed him to name the nearly $4 billion structure linking Nyack in Rockland County with Tarrytown in Westchester after his late father — a three-term state chief executive who family members say would have never wanted the honor — with zero public input.

Mario Cuomo standing with a jacket slung over his shoulder
Family members have said three-term Gov. Mario Cuomo would have never wanted his name on the bridge.
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Skoufis noted Tuesday that whatever misgivings Hochul may have about his bill, she appears much more open to the idea than her predecessor, who resigned in August 2021 following a multitude of scandals.

“Given that the bill would’ve been dead on arrival if it ever hit Andrew Cuomo’s desk, I definitely welcome Gov. Hochul’s openness to the legislation,” Skoufis said.

Hudson Valley natives say they’ve never accepted the idea that the new bridge, which fully opened in 2018, would go by anything other than the old “Tappan Zee” name, which references the Tappan people indigenous to the area and the Dutch word for “sea.”

Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a 2017 deal with legislators to let him name the bridge after his dad.
Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a 2017 deal with legislators to let him name the bridge after his dad.

“Call me an originalist — but to me, it’ll always be the Tappan Zee,” Rockland native Sarah Donnelly said Monday.

A two-year-old petition calling for the change has collected more than 262,000 signatures.

But Hochul — who has built her political brand partly on emphasizing local input on state matters — has a habit of avoiding taking positions on touchy issues by suggesting she does not want to get ahead of legislators.

The nearly $4 billion bridge opened in 2018 to connect Rockland and Westchester counties.
The nearly $4 billion bridge opened in 2018 to connect Rockland and Westchester counties.
Paul Martinka

“She’s probably saying she wants it both ways, but the issue is not about whether something should be named after Mario Cuomo,” McGowan said. “The people of Rockland didn’t vote and weigh in on changing the name — and that’s the thing that I fundamentally have a problem with.”