Updated 03/23/2011 08:06 PM
City Council Votes To Rename Queensboro Bridge After Mayor Koch
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New Yorkers will soon drive over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.
The City Council voted 38-12 Wednesday in favor of renaming the bridge for the former mayor.
The council's Parks Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the proposal Tuesday.
"When the mayor asked me if he could submit the legislation to rename the Queensboro Bridge the 'Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge' -- in Manhattan, it's known as the 59th Street Bridge -- I said that was a great honor, but I wasn't going to lobby for it," said Koch.
Lawmakers who voted against the measure, including some from Queens, said the bridge should retain its old identity.
"This is against the will of the people. Every group that has taken a position on this is opposed to it. Every Queens newspaper, every poll, and more importantly, virtually every person in Queens," said City Councilman Peter Vallone, Junior.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll found 64 percent of city voters are opposed to renaming the bridge, and 70 percent of Queens residents want the bridge to keep its current name.
Several black lawmakers also voted against the renaming, which was initially proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Racial tensions sometimes flared in the city under Koch, most notably during his third term.
"Koch was a nemesis for the black community. This is a disrespect for our community," said City Councilman Charles Barron.
Many though, say they're proud to rename the bridge. Koch, the city's 105th mayor, is credited with rebuilding the city after the fiscal crisis of 1975.
"That mayor was Ed Koch. A man who took on the challenge of getting New York City out of bankruptcy, who took on the challenge of being the bridge back to the greatness of what this city is all about," said City Council SPeaker Christine Quinn.
City officials say private donations will cover the cost of changing the bridge's signs.
No date has been set for the official renaming.