HOMETOWN HAPPENINGS: A New Bridge

With George Hoehmann
Supervisor, Town of Clarkstown

Last week I had the honor and privilege to attend the opening ceremony of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge. It was a beautiful sunny day without a cloud in the sky. We were invited to meet in Westchester with other elected officials to take a bus across the bridge to the ceremony. As soon as I arrived, I happened to meet Armando “Chick” Galella from Sleepy Hollow.

Chick is a Pearl Harbor survivor and veteran, who was the first driver over the original Tappan Zee Bridge in 1955. It was an honor to meet a real American hero. Chick received a bronze star for his five years in the Pacific and often shares his story of service at schools and veteran events and ceremonies. Just like 62 years ago, Chick led the procession over the bridge in a 1955 corvette, with Governor Andrew Cuomo.

I was in awe as we drove over the new bridge, riding high above the old bridge. The two in contrast: old vs new, weak vs strong. I took in the beauty of the Hudson River with a clear view of the greatest city in the world on one side and the breathtaking view of Hook Mountain and our great Town of Clarkstown on the other. Traveling over the bridge I was excited to think of all the promise it brings to our area.

The bridge will certainly improve the congestion and traffic that we are all too familiar with.  While I wish it had rail service, it will still be a major improvement for commuters once completed next year. The new bridge will also be good for increased business, economic growth and development, and tourism.

The new bridge is long overdue and I give kudos to the governor and his administration for building the bridge under budget and on time.  I am most proud that the bridge was built with 100 percent American steel by 100 percent labor unions, which is appropriate this Labor Day. The men and women who worked around the clock, in all kinds of weather to build this beautiful structure are to be commended.

I welcome the new bridge and look forward to its completion next year and all it has to offer us and the region.