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Mayor: Rename Q’nsboro Bridge after Ed Koch

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to rename the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City after the man who was instrumental in rehabilitating it: former Mayor Ed Koch, a move supported by Queens politicians.

“Like Ed Koch, the bridge is a resilient, hardworking New York City icon that’s been bringing people together for a long time — and will probably outlast us all,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Bloomberg made the announcement Dec. 8 at a party for Koch, which was held at Gracie Mansion in anticipation of the mayor’s 86th birthday Sunday. To change the name of the bridge, the city needs to pass a local law, Bloomberg’s office said. All of the signs that would need to be replaced if the law is passed would be paid for by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which is funded by private donations, the office said.

After the renaming, the bridge, which connects 59th Street in Manhattan and Queens Plaza in Long Island City, would be called the “Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.”

Outgoing state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) called the renaming a “fitting tribute.”

“I think he did a great job as mayor and he still continues to do a great job on a number of important issues,” Padavan said.

Koch has had a long history of public service. A former World War II sergeant, Koch was a member of the City Council for two years before serving as a member of Congress from 1969-77. He became mayor in 1977 after beating the incumbent mayor, Abraham Beame, in the Democratic primary election, then Liberal Party opponent Mario Cuomo in the general election. Koch served for three terms until 1989, when he was defeated by David Dinkins. Since then, Koch has stayed in the public eye as a political commentator, writer, movie reviewer and one-time judge on “The People’s Court.”

Peter Vallone Sr., former Council speaker, said he had called Koch the “spirit of the city” in his book “Learning to Govern.” He said the Queensboro Bridge is also the spirit of the city since it connects the borough with the biggest land mass, Queens, with the borough with the biggest work area, Manhattan.

“It’s a workhorse bridge and he’s been a workhorse all his life,” Vallone said of Koch.

Archie Spigner, former councilman for Jamaica, said while he has not supported all of Koch’s political endorsements and choices, he did good things as mayor and helped southeast Queens.

“As far as a mayor and as far as his contributions to southeast Queens, I support the naming of the bridge,” Spigner said.

Bloomberg’s office said the Queensboro Bridge was in poor condition when Koch was in office. It suffered from corrosion, the outer roadways were so unsafe that they were closed and a large portion of the bridge had not been inspected in more than a decade. Koch invested in the Queensboro Bridge and put it on the path to being safe, Bloomberg’s office said.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said the renaming was a fitting honor.

“Over 40 years ago, the Queensboro Bridge had Simon and Garfunkel feelin’ groovy,” Quinn said, referencing the duo’s hit “Feeling Groovy (59th St. Bridge Song),” “and today there is no one in our city groovier than Ed Koch.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 6:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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