Home Asides On the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, renamed

On the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, renamed

by Benjamin Kabak

Flitting across the inbox this afternoon came a missive from the MTA: On Monday morning, Joe Lhota, public officials and Hugh Carey’s surviving family members will gather in Lower Manhattan for a ceremony officially renaming the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel in honor of the late governor. Instead of a useful name signifying place, the river crossing will be called the Gov. Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

The Carey Tunnel renaming wasn’t unexpected. The dedication was approved by politicians in 2010, and at the time, I railed against the inanities of renaming tunnels and bridges. Does it make sense to spend taxpayer dollars to rename a river crossing or roadway whose name serves a purpose? Once we could take the West Side Highway to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel or else we could take the East River Drive to the Triborough Bridge. Now, we can ride the Joe DiMaggio Highway to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel or ride the FDR Drive to the RFK or Ed Koch Bridges. Does anyone really know where we’re going any longer?

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Todd October 19, 2012 - 4:10 pm

Not a fan.

Josh October 19, 2012 - 4:24 pm

Does anyone really know where we’re going any longer?

Yes, because everyone still calls them the Triborough Bridge and the West Side Highway and the 59th Street Bridge.

Jerrold October 19, 2012 - 4:38 pm

THAT’S RIGHT! Just like “Avenue of the Americas”. At least in the case of THAT one, they eventually gave up and put back the “6 Ave.” signs there alongside the “Avenue of the Americas” signs.

Jerrold October 19, 2012 - 8:32 pm

Renaming an AVENUE only works when the new name is an extension of another avenue that is connected to it at the other end.
When they renamed most of 4th Ave. as Park Avenue South, THAT did work.
Even though coming to think of it, everybody calls it just “Park Avenue”, even when they are talking about the part of it that is SOUTH of 33rd St.

tp October 21, 2012 - 1:59 pm

Below 33rd St it’s called “Park Avenue South.” The tiny little stretch below Union Square is still called 4th Ave.

Matthias October 22, 2012 - 8:15 am

What’s it called between 33rd and 42nd?

Kai B October 20, 2012 - 10:07 pm

I love the New York Times still only uses “Avenue of Americas”. They’re practically the only ones.

david f October 19, 2012 - 6:37 pm

at least the queensboro bridge (59th st bridge) was renamed the “ed koch queensboro bridge”. they SHOULDA renamed the triboro the “rfk triboro bridge”. just as they should called it the ‘hugh carey bkl’n-battery tunnel”

that way they could have the best of both worlds. honoring a famous new yorker AND letting the rest of us know where we’re going.

Bolwerk October 19, 2012 - 9:44 pm

Behl. I wish they’d limit names to relevancy. RFK (no offense intended to him) was barely a New Yorker, Ed Koch is a delusional/authoritarian douche clown (offense intended), and Hugh Carey…well, like the others, he had nothing to do with any of those structures.

Adirondacker12800 October 19, 2012 - 4:36 pm

… if you don’t want to take the Turnpike to Newark Airport, when you get out of the Holland Tunnel follow the signs for the Pulaski Skyway.. There really isn’t any reasonable alternative to using the Van Wyck to get to Kennedy is there? Not if you are in Jamaica anyway.

Benjamin Kabak October 19, 2012 - 4:38 pm

In Van Wyck’s defense, the road beneath the Van Wyck Expressway was called Van Wyck Avenue. So that just dates back a long time.

Jerrold October 19, 2012 - 4:40 pm

Wasn’t it Van Wyck BOULEVARD, not Avenue? Isn’t that why the subway station is still called Van Wyck Boulevard?

Frank B. October 21, 2012 - 2:19 pm

It WAS Van Wyck Boulevard.

Same thing with the LIE and Horace Harding Boulevard.

JB October 19, 2012 - 5:00 pm

If they’re going to rename it, how about after the firefighter who ran through it on 9/11? I think the name would have more impact on those driving through it since it is quite a distance.

Then again, I’m firmly in the camp that our public works shouldn’t be renamed

R2 October 19, 2012 - 5:28 pm

Yeah, the time to name such things is from the get-go. Sure, the Lincoln tunnel doesn’t convey any useful geographic info, but we’re more than OK with it because it is what is from the start (not to mention the person’s significance).

Peter October 19, 2012 - 5:31 pm

Renaming an old piece of infrastructure like this is a terrible idea. First off there’s the expense of replacing signage — the MTA and other cash-strapped agencies shouldn’t be spending any dollars that aren’t absolutely necessary. Second there’s the confusion for drivers, particularly for out of towners who might be consulting outdated references.

Rather than renaming the thing, they should’ve just affixed Carey’s name to it like they did with the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. The Hugh Carey Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Affix a couple small plagues near the tunnel entrance and be done with it. That way Carey’s relatives get their warm and fuzzies, but nobody else has to be bothered.

Kai B October 20, 2012 - 10:21 pm

I agree that this is how it should be done. And it may still occur this way since in the case of the Queensboro it was also called a “renaming” but the name was really just added on.

Alex October 19, 2012 - 5:43 pm

Does anyone know why this has been such a fad in the city over the past few years? All these pieces of infrastructure that have stood for decades with a specific name and in the span of 5 years or so they’ve renamed 3 of them. Just seems odd (and confusing and wasteful).

John-2 October 19, 2012 - 7:09 pm

My guess is the soon-to-be-outgoing mayor wants to set a marker down so he can get one of the remaining not-named-after-anyone river crossings renamed for him somewhere down the line.

You’ve still got the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, along with the Queens-Midtown Tunnel left to rename that are properly located in key areas od Manhattan where a politician with a lofty opinion of himself would like to have his legacy honored (in contrast, I doubt Mayor Mike would be gunning to have the Willis Avenue Bridge named in his honor).

SEAN October 19, 2012 - 8:42 pm

Come to think of it, if you want to rename infrastructure, wouldn’t it make sence to sell the naming rights just like they do with sports stadiums? Well at least the dollars raised could go towards maintaining such structures. Think about it… the Belt Parkway could be the Coach Parkway, the Midtown tunnel could be the Big Apple Tunnel & so on.

This was all tongue & cheek.

Bolwerk October 19, 2012 - 9:45 pm

Yeah! They can be named after the corporate criminals who run oil companies.

Duke October 19, 2012 - 10:58 pm

Someday they will name a bridge after Mike Bloomberg. And it will have a weight limit on it.

Thunderfoot October 19, 2012 - 5:54 pm

Can’t be any worse than the Meadowlands arena

Larry Littlefield October 19, 2012 - 5:56 pm

Seconded. Create a statue park for all these people, and put the names of the roads back to what they were.

Can’t wait for them to rename the Brooklyn Bridge after Giuliani.

mighty_mouse October 19, 2012 - 5:58 pm

I still call all these by their logical names. Especially when I give directions

Janice October 19, 2012 - 6:15 pm

Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp? Anyone?

Patrick October 19, 2012 - 6:48 pm

Atlantic Avenue-Barclay’s Center, i like this name change although i still slip up & say ‘Pacific Street.’

Edward Koch-Queensboro Bridge & Robert F. Kennedy-Triboro Bridge, it took a while but now i say it.

i will NEVER get used to ‘Gov. Hugh L. Carey Tunnel,’ or according to Google Maps: ‘Governor Hugh L. Carey/Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.’ That and ‘6 1/2 Avenue’

i swear ANOTHER damn name change is coming

Patrick October 19, 2012 - 6:50 pm

Oops its Bing not Google

BrooklynBus October 19, 2012 - 6:50 pm

I pretty much agree with you on this one, but it’s even worse than you say. You can’t take the Joe DiMaggio Highway to the Hugh Carey Tunnel. The Joe DiMaggio Highway actually only extends from 72nd Street to 57 St. From there you need to use 11th Avenue or West Street, but for some reason Google Maps calls it “Lincoln Highway”. When did that happen?

And how about all those confusing commemorative names using the same fonts and colored signs? When you get on the Cross Island, the first sign you see says you’ve entered the 101st Division Memorial Highway. Similarly after exiting the BQE for the Belt Parkway, you are greeted with a sign that you are on Lief Ericson Drive. These oversized signs are not only unnecessary, expensive and confusing, but can cause accidents when unfamiliar motorists start questioning where they are thinking they made a wrong turn. Smaller commemorative signs would be more appropriate.

Jerrold October 19, 2012 - 8:50 pm

Wait a minute!
What happened to 12th Avenue?
Wasn’t 12th Avenue all fixed up after the old elevated West Side Highway was torn down?

BrooklynBus October 19, 2012 - 9:29 pm

Actually coming down the west side it’s Henry Hudson, then Joe DiMaggio, then 12th Avenue, then 11th Avenue, then West Street, then the Hugh Carey Tunnel (if you ignore “the Lincoln Highway”. Try giving someone those directions when someone is basically are driving along the same stretch of roadway.
The City goes out of its way to make it as difficult as possible for newcomers.

Kai B October 20, 2012 - 10:14 pm

You are correct regarding West St, 11th Ave, etc., and that’s what’s I try to use as well. However, in popular usage the “West Side Highway” includes all of those surface streets where they take part in State Route 9A.

Craig October 19, 2012 - 7:06 pm

What a joke – Politicians celebrating other politicians.

Bushwicked October 19, 2012 - 8:23 pm

If geographically named bridges are up for changing, then why not the: The Bloomberg Bridge, formerly The Brooklyn Bridge
The Trump Bridge, formerly The Manhattan Bridge
The Markowitz Bridge, formerly The Williamsburg Bridge
Oh no, we’re running our bridges to rename!

Phantom October 19, 2012 - 8:54 pm

I loathe all these renamings

These idiots can’t build anything new on time or on budget but they can rename everything already built, to confuse us all

Newak ” Liberty ” Airport is another name that can drop dead also.

Frank October 19, 2012 - 9:46 pm

I’m not too much a fan of renaming bridges and tunnels after people but at the same time I’m not really going complain about it. While it does cost money to change the signs when renaming a bridge its not that much money (maybe a couple million or so). I’m not up in arms over this, though I don’t agree with it fully.

John T October 19, 2012 - 11:29 pm

Awful – every thing named after a place is at risk of renaming by someone connected. It’s still the Interboro or West Side Hwy to me.

Watch out Grand Central Parkway!

Phantom October 20, 2012 - 12:19 pm

We should start a petition against the renaming of the last places bearing normal place names.

Watch , 20 years from now, some knuckle dragging imbecile will want to rename a public road for Derek Jeter. Bet on it.

John-2 October 20, 2012 - 1:57 pm

I’m putting my money on the Cross-Bronx Expressway.

Phantom October 20, 2012 - 4:05 pm


Good guess.

LLQBTT October 22, 2012 - 9:41 am

Hmmmm…who will the Brooklyn Bridge be re-named for? Rudy!?!?!?!?!

The Mayor Rudolf W. Guiliani Memorial Bridge

Roebling would be turning in his grave!!

Phantom October 22, 2012 - 7:01 pm

Rudy was a great, transformative mayor. But I hope that no one dares vandalize the name of our most beloved bridge.


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