Triborough Bridge renaming to RFK awaits gov’s pen

The Triborough Bridge, seen from the Bronx Span near Randall’s Island, could soon be renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge if Governor David Patterson signs a bill passed by both the Senate and Assembly.

The State Assembly and Senate have voted to rename the Triborough Bridge, connecting the Bronx with Manhattan and Queens, after the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy in remembrance of the 40th anniversary of his death.

Governor David Patterson now has the bill renaming the structure, which was built during the Great Depression under the direction of Robert Moses and the New Deal programs, and opened for traffic on July 11, 1936.

Former governor Elliot Spitzer proposed the renaming before turning over the reigns of the state to Patterson.

Under the measure, the bridge – which constitutes a series of spans and associated structures – would bear the name “Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.”

“Robert Kennedy was one of New York’s greatest elected officials, and we honor that legacy in light of his outstanding contributions not only to our state, but to our country,” said Senator Jeff Klein.  “Kennedy served with an unparalleled level of integrity and dedication which all of us can emulate in whatever work we do.”

Many saw the move, which published reports say the Kennedy family has been pushing for, as symbolic of the work of Robert Kennedy as a peacemaker among diverse groups of people at a time when it was thought the country was coming unhinged.

“I think that the renaming of the bridge is a wonderful way to recognize a great man who made incredible contributions to this city and this nation,” said Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera.

Rivera’s colleague, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, concurred.

“Bobby Kennedy was a champion of the middle class, and really, the neediest in our society,” Benedetto noted. “It is only fitting that a bridge bringing together three boroughs with diverse groups of people be named in his honor. It is quite symbolic about what RFK’s political career was all about.”


The state Department of Traffic is already making preparations to replace 150 to 160 traffic signs over the next two years, changing the name of the bridge in every visible location at a cost of approximately four to five million dollars.

“The legislation gives us a little flexibility,” said a state DOT spokesman about signage replacement. “We are going to replace the signs all in one shot once the bill is signed.”  

All that stands in the way is Governor Patterson, who is expected to sign the bill in the near future.

“It is entirely appropriate to honor and recognize Robert F. Kennedy by renaming the Triborough Bridge, a structure that was built to connect a city of millions.” Rivera continued.  “I hope that the governor will be equally moved to memorialize his name in this way.”

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