Councilman Peter Vallone Isn’t Going to Let His Bridge Dream Die

The late Ed Koch poses during the renaming of the Queensboro Bridge. (Photo by JP Yim/Getty Images)
Ed Koch poses during the renaming of the Queensboro Bridge. (Photo: JP Yim/Getty)

For Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., it was always a bridge too far.

The Queens pol raged in 2011 when the City Council renamed his beloved Queensboro Bridge after former Mayor Ed Koch, stripping the cantilevered bridge, in Mr. Vallone’s eyes, of its Queens-centric identity.

Now term-limited out of office, Mr. Vallone introduced new legislation today to remove “Ed Koch” from the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge’s title and name a municipal building after the iconic mayor instead.

“It’s a tremendous slap in face to the people of Queens. It was overwhelmingly opposed by the people of queens,” Mr. Vallone told Politicker today, insisting his beef is not with the recently-deceased Mr. Koch, but defending his home turf. “It’s an outrage neither I nor the people will forget.”

The challenge for Mr. Vallone, which he acknowledged, is that his legislation has virtually no chance of passing before the current council disbands at the end of the year. (All pending legislation dies at the end of a term.) But next year, almost two dozen new members will join the council under a new speaker, giving Mr. Vallone hope that the bridge’s name can be changed back.

Mr. Vallone argued today that Christine Quinn, the outgoing council speaker, only shepherded the renaming legislation because she wanted to net Mr. Koch’s endorsement in the mayoral race.

“The speaker wanted Ed Koch for her mayoral run. She pushed this at full speed. She absolutely wanted no opposition,” he fumed. “It’s a textbook example of why you should never, ever name something after a living person that can give an endorsement or a campaign contribution.”

Mr. Vallone also explained that his legislation would be “laying the groundwork” for a movement to rename the bridge, though he admitted he had yet to discuss his plans with any incoming council members. He said his brother, Queens Councilman-elect Paul Vallone, could possibly carry it forward.

“My bill is not gonna pass. We know that,” he said. “I think with a new speaker, a new mayor and some new council members from Queens, there may be new hope of returning the bridge to its rightful owners.”

Ms. Quinn’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

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