Bay Ridge

Sign of the times: First new Verraz(z)ano Bridge sign goes up

February 6, 2020 John Alexander
Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island was named in honor of Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. However, its name was spelled incorrectly for more than half a century.

Now change is on the way, as on Wednesday crews from MTA Bridges and Tunnels replaced the sign at 92nd Street near Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge that points to an entrance ramp to the bridge. It’s the first of many signs to be replaced on agency property to feature the revised spelling of the bridge’s name, incorporating an additional ‘z’ in “Verrazzano.”

Legislation officially changing the name of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to reflect the correct spelling of Giovanni da Verrazzano — who, in 1524, was the first European explorer to sail into New York Harbor, which the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge now spans — was signed into law in October 2019 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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“The Verrazzano Bridge is a vital transportation artery for millions of Staten Island and Brooklyn residents,” Cuomo said at the time. “We are correcting this decades-old misspelling out of respect to the legacy of the explorer and to New York’s heritage.”

The bill was originally co-sponsored in the State Senate by former State Sen. Marty Golden and Staten Island State Sen. Andrew Lanza, and in the Assembly by Assemblymember Michael Cusick.

The agreement was for MTA Bridges and Tunnels to replace the signs on its property gradually, under a normal schedule of maintenance, to avoid incurring costs above and beyond normal replacement costs.

The initial estimate was that it would cost roughly $350,000 to replace 96 signs of different sizes between Staten Island and Brooklyn on which the name of the bridge is spelled with a single “z.” That figure has since been amended and the price tag is now closer to $200,000 to $250,000.

“This change is important to Italian-Americans on both sides of the bridge,” State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis said at the time.  

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“While I initially opposed due to cost concerns, I supported the final version because it was amended to make clear that signs will be replaced with regular repair and maintenance, not at an additional cost to MTA fare and toll payers.”

When it opened in 1964, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was the longest suspension span in the world, linking historic Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. It remains the longest suspension span in the United States and handles close to 70 million vehicles annually.


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