The people behind the new Tappan Zee Bridge are notoriously uninterested in talking about the new $3.9 billion project’s future name, but the state’s Conservative Party wants them to honor those killed in the 1981 Brinks robbery.
The third party wants the Thurway Authority to name it the Brown Paige O’Grady Bridge, after Nyack police Sgt. Edward O’Grady, Officer Waverly “Chipper” Brown and Brinks guard Peter Paige.
The party launched a petition to stoke support for the name earlier this week.
The three men were killed when members of the Black Liberation Army and May 19 Communist Organization robbed $1.6 million from a Brinks truck at the Nanuet Mall. Paige was killed during the initial robbery, while Brown, the village’s first black officer, and O’Grady were killed near the New York State Thruway entrance ramp on Route 59 after being ambushed.
While the Thruway Authority has declined to comment on any potential names, the public has put forth plenty, ranging from folk singer Pete Seeger to former governor Mario Cuomo, father of current Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Others say the state should simply keep the name of the existing bridge.
Some proposals have had current event ties: Last year, Dutchess County Republican State Rep. Kieran Michael Lawlor suggested naming the bridge the “Sergeant Joseph Lemm – Post-9/11 Veterans Memorial Bridge” shortly after Lemm, also a detective in the New York Police Department, was killed in Afghanistan.
The proposal comes after Gov. Andew Cuomo recently granted Judith Clark, one of the conspirators in the robbery, the right to a parole hearing this year. Clark, now 67, maintains that she was simply the getaway driver and supporters say she has reformed herself, with a clean record at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, and that the rest of the perpetrators are either dead or free.
In 2002, Clark expressed regret about her role in the robbery and said she rejected her radical beliefs.
Many Rockland County police officers, elected officials and family of the deceased are vehemently against her potential release.
“Unlike how they portray her, she was actively involved in the planning and execution of the crime,” said Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe in the run up to a rally against Clark’s parole hearing. “He actions contributed to the murder of three people.”
The first half of the new bridge is set to open sometime this year, with all traffic moving to that span. The entirety of the project is set for completion in 2018.
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