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November 17, 2019

Politics

In Greenburgh, a "first draft" of the signs replacing the former Tappan Zee Bridge signs named after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's father -- the late Mario M. Cuomo.
In Greenburgh, a "first draft" of the signs replacing the former Tappan Zee Bridge signs named after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's father -- the late Mario M. Cuomo.

Cost Of Mario Cuomo Bridge Signs Remains A Mystery

M might as well stand for mystery. 

The cost of installing newly-labeled signs heading toward the former Tappan Zee Bridge is unknown.

A Freedom of Information Law request seeking the cost of installing new Mario Cuomo Bridge signs, filed by Daily Voice on Jan. 2, got this reply from the State Department of Transportation on March 25: "A diligent search of our files failed to reveal any records which were responsive to your request."

This week, Westchester County residents and their state Senator are questioning changes being made to Thruway signs that omitted the middle initial for the former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo's $4 billion bridge. The M stands for Matthew. His son, Andrew M. Cuomo's middle initial stands for Mark. 

"It's just salt in the wounds and infuriating," said state Sen. David Carlucci of word that the New York State Thruway Authority is replacing signage that omitted the "M." from the bridge's name on directional signs along the Thruway and other state routes that lead to the new bridge. 

"The money spent by the State to change the signs could be better used to fill potholes on our roadways," Carlucci said.

According to Carlucci, there's state precedent for handling sign snafus, but it isn't being followed.

“Replacing the signs is a waste of taxpayer dollars," Carlucci said. "The minor mistake should be addressed when the signs are under maintenance for general wear and tear. A similar issue happened with the Verrazzano Bridge, and the Governor signed legislation into law, requiring the change only be made when the signs were under maintenance."

During the 2018 session, a bill fixed a 50-year-old typo on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. The bridge name — and consequently its signs — had just one "z." It was named after Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who discovered New York Harbor in 1524.

At the time, state legislators made clear that it shouldn't cost state residents or commuters anything to fix the omission.

"This legislation will not result in any additional taxpayer funding as it instructs state and city agencies to correct the spelling in the normal course of sign replacement," Assemblymember Michael Cusick said in a 2018 statement issued by the governor's office.

A Thruway Authority spokesman said the signs are made in-house. "This process uses existing state resources with no additional outside costs and the goal is to ensure uniformity across the system,” said Khurram Saeed, spokesman for the New NY Bridge project.

It isn't the first time a typo marred the lettering on a Tappan Zee Bridge sign. In 1994, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo added an honorary prefix to the bridge's as a tribute to former Gov. Malcolm Wilson. However, the new sign omitted the second "l" in Malcolm Wilson's first name.

In an interview with The Journal News, Wilson said that people often left out the second L when spelling his name. "I always kidded that politics knocked the 'L' out of me," Wilson said at the time.