City wants NYC Marathon organizers to pay $750K to cross Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

NYC Marathon and Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

NEW YORK — Transit officials want the organizers of the New York City Marathon to foot the bill for bridge tolls.

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At the beginning of the 26.2-mile race through the five boroughs of New York, thousands of runners clog both levels of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge that connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. Now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is demanding approximately $750,000 a year to make up for toll revenue that the agency loses by closing North America’s longest suspension bridge, The New York Times reported.

The MTA wants to charge New York Road Runners, the organizers of the marathon, to offset the cost of revenues lost, according to WCBS-TV.

“New Yorkers love Marathon Sunday, but taxpayers cannot be expected to subsidize a wealthy nongovernment organization like the New York Road Runners to the tune of $750,000,” Catherine Sheridan, the president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, said in a statement. “The MTA is prepared to continue working toward a final agreement with the N.Y.R.R., provided it leads, over time, to full reimbursement for the lost revenue.”

The MTA said there was no way it could continue allowing both decks to be used for the race without a payment agreement, the Times reported. The marathon has used both decks of the bridge since 1988.

More than 50,000 runners are expected to participate in this year’s race, according to the newspaper.

The Road Runners began paying for personnel costs linked to closing the bridge in 2021 and was charged $150,000 last year, the Times reported.

Road Runners has released figures stating that the race has been an economic boon for the city.

An economic impact report the group commissioned in 2020 stated that the 2019 marathon generated $427 million in revenues for New York City, according to The Associated Press.

“The impact of MTA’s request would represent a material change to the cost structure and would require an increase to how much runners pay to run the Marathon, making it less affordable for local runners and those who travel to New York City from around the world -- both of whom contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the City’s and State’s economy,” Crystal Howard, a spokesperson for the organization, said in an emailed statement to the AP.

In March, the MTA also demanded reimbursement from Bike New York, a smaller organization that uses the bridge’s lower deck on the final leg of its Five Boro Bike Tour, the Times reported.

If the Road Runners must make the $750,000 payment each year, race organizers said they might have to either decrease the size of the field or extend the time of the marathon, according to the AP.

Race officials added that it also could mean an increase of entry fees, WCBS reported. Current members of the Road Runners pay $255 to compete, while non-members pay $315.

In her statement to the AP, Sheridan said the MTA is open to working with Road Runners on a compromise, provided it “leads, over time, to full reimbursement for the lost revenue.”