Many calling for restoring the name of the Mario Cuomo Bridge back to the Tappan Zee Bridge missed something. In 1994, then NY Governor Mario Cuomo changed the name to Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge. Wilson was elected Lieutenant Governor with Nelson Rockefeller in 1958 on the Republican ticket. Rockefeller resigned as Governor in 1973 to assume the Office of Vice President under President Gerald Ford. Wilson became the Governor. He subsequently lost in 1974 race for a full term to Democrat Hugh Carey.
Cuomo always intended to use toll hikes to pay for the $3.9 billion construction costs. He made a political calculation by promising not to raise the tolls when running in 2018. To pay back the $1.6 billion dollar Federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Improvement Act (TIFIA) loan and $1 billion Thruway Authority Bond, tolls will periodically go up. How long will it take to pay back both loans?
Cuomo’s departure from Albany leaves taxpayers and commuters stuck paying higher fares, taxes and tolls in coming years to pay for the bridge, regardless of name.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.)