It's hard to find someone in the Hudson Valley who doesn't have an opinion about the bridge formerly known as the Tappan Zee. Naming the crossing, which opened in 2017 to traffic, after former Gov. Mario Cuomo, has stirred a heated debate in the region.
And now a Democratic lawmaker in the state Assembly believes he's got a compromise.
Assemblyman Tom Abinanti wants to add the words "Tappan Zee" back to the name, and retain Mario Cuomo in the process. It's not dissimilar to the original bridge, which opened more than a half century ago, which was technically called the Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge after a former governor.
But retaining the historic Tappan Zee name — a nod to the area's Dutch and Native American heritage — has been a point of contention.
"We have a heritage here. This is the most visible monument in the area. This was the center of their civilization," Abbinanti said. "The Native Americans lived in this area. We should honor that heritage."
Republican lawmakers, including Assemblyman Michael Lawler, have pushed for Mario Cuomo's name to come off entirely. Abbinanti was a critic of Andrew Cuomo, and had early on called on him to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment inappropriate conduct. But he believes Mario Cuomo was a good governor.
"There is a controversy. Some would like to take the name Cuomo off the bridge completely," he said. "To them I say, it's not going to happen. We shouldn't be vindictive. Let's not visit the sins of the son on the father."
Abinanti's bill stands a chance of passage given the Democratic control of the state Assembly and state Senate. He's hopeful the measure can come up for a vote later next year.
"I've spoken with Democrats, Republicans, independents," Abinanti said. "They all feel the designation Tappan Zee should be added back."
Questions have also been raised with the bridge's construction and whether corners were cut in the process, though state officials insist the bridge is safe to travel over. Those questions could be answered in a report due to be reviewed this week by the Assembly Judiciary Committee.