How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Verrazano? With an Extra Z

How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Verrazano? With an Extra Z
How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Verrazano? With an Extra Z

The One-Zers carried the day, and the bridge as currently named — two Rs, one Z, one N, and more than a few angry Italian-Americans — was born.

Jon Weinstein, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the bridge, said a spelling fix would cost the agency roughly $350,000 to replace “96 signs of varying sizes.”

That is a pittance compared to past renaming endeavors — the state put the cost of renaming the Triborough Bridge after Robert F. Kennedy at $4 million — but perhaps still no insignificant sum for an agency bedeviled by arguably bigger problems than nomenclature. (Mr. Golden later said the bill would be amended, presumably to minimize costs: Only two signs would need to be immediately changed, one on each side of the bridge; others could be fixed in the course of normal replacement.)

Advocates of the change say it’s the message, not the price, that matters.

“I understand that there’s a cost involved in doing these things, but I think the cost over time is minuscule compared to the psychological and emotional effect that it has on people,” Joseph V. Scelsa, the president of the Italian American Museum in Lower Manhattan, said. “It’s important that we make it up in this country, not only for Italian names but all names.”

The true difficulty may not be so much cost as past practice. Since its opening in 1964, the bridge has become a fixture of the city’s literature, and the paper trail left by that lone, controversial Z is long. One of New York’s most venerated writers, Gay Talese, wrote an entire book about the bridge, one Z. Opinion pieces have denounced its infamous $17 one-way toll. Local businesses bear its name.

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