NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Another milestone Friday for the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Governor Andrew Cuomo for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday to mark the grand opening of the south span of the bridge, which links Westchester and Rockland counties over the Hudson River.
The bridge will be completely open to traffic on Saturday morning.
The north span of the bridge opened last October.
The new spans replace the old Tappan Zee Bridge, which is now being demolished with some pieces recycled as components for new artificial reefs off Long Island.
The new bridge’s north span opened last year, when the structure was named in honor of the elder Cuomo, governor from 1983 to 1994. He died on Jan. 1, 2015.
Meantime, the controversy over the name change has continued unabated.
During the Democratic primary debate on Aug. 25, Cuomo stood firm that the words “Tappan Zee” will not be added to the new span.
But for many New Yorkers, the change was hard to swallow.
“That’s history. It’s been the Tappan Zee Bridge, and I think it should stay the Tappan Zee Bridge,” said Scarsdale resident Anthony Consentino.
Cuomo refused to budge despite signs still directing drivers to the “Tappan Zee,” and a change.org petition with more than 111,000 signatures.
During the debate, Cuomo was asked if he would make a concession to a lot of people concerned about losing Tappan Zee by calling it the Mario Cuomo Tappen Zee Bridge.
“When the legislature acted, this wasn’t even a discussion at the time,” he said. “The point was, it’s a new bridge, we will give it a new name.”
“This was really pushed through in the dead of night, without discussion in the community,” said Cuomo’s challenger, actress Cynthia Nixon.
“I didn’t think he was right,” said Tarrytown resident Roberta Steinberg.
“That guy has a lot of nerve,” said John Pellegrini, also of Tarrytown.
Bills have been introduced in the New York state Senate and state Assembly to rename this the “Governor Mario M. Cuomo Tappan Zee Bridge.”
If the legislation ultimately passes, whether it gets signed into law depends on who ends up in the governor’s mansion.