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MTA demanding New York City Marathon organizers pay $750K for lost toll revenue in this year’s race: report

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is reportedly demanding the organizers of the New York City Marathon pay $750,000 to cover the lost toll revenue that comes from shutting down the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The New York Road Runners (NYRR), which run the iconic marathon every year, are being threatened with restricted use of the bridge if they don’t pay up, according to The New York Times. If that does become the case, the marathon could have a reduced participant pool this year. 

The Times cited internal memos, which point to tough negotiations from the MTA saying runners would only be allowed to use the lower deck of the bridge for the race. The marathon starts on Staten Island every year, and the use of the Verrazano Bridge is critical in bringing the runners to Brooklyn.

 

However, the memos in recent weeks have said the NYRR could choose either the upper or lower level, but they cannot use both. The marathon has used both the upper and lower levels for the past 36 years. 

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

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The New York City Marathon isn’t just a race for many around the world looking to be crowned champion, but also for thousands looking to raise money for good causes. The marathon is expected to attract 50,000 participants this year. 

The non-profit argues that entrants will decrease if they can’t use both levels of the bridge for the race. And if that’s the case, the 26.2-mile race will need to go on longer, meaning other bridges and streets throughout the five boroughs will need to be shut down longer.  

The organization has asked New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to weigh in on the negotiations with the MTA, as NYRR CEO Rob Simmelkjaer requested Hochul ask the agency to “negotiate in good faith.” 

New York City Marathon runners finish race

Simmelkjaer added the NYRR had already agreed to up its payment to $200,000 for the closure of the bridge for this year’s race after paying $150,000 last year. 

“We have agreed to increase payments to the MTA in the form of both direct payments and the purchase of advertising on subways and buses,” Simmelkjaer’s letter read. “The MTA has made few concessions in these negotiations, however, and continues to insist on 100% reimbursement of lost toll revenue.”

Simmelkjaer also pointed out to Hochul in the letter that the NYRR has “an extraordinary impact on the state and city economy — bringing in more than one million spectators and 50,000 runners to New York City’s streets each year.”

The NYRR had a total income of $100.2 million last fiscal year with $95.6 million in expenses after bringing in $72.6 million in 2022 with $72.3 million in expenses. 

The MTA has been a hot topic for city goers in recent weeks, as the board recently approved a congestion pricing plan that would hit drivers with a $15 toll to enter Midtown Manhattan below 60th Street, causing widespread debate. 

New York City Marathon runners on Verrazano Bridge

The MTA says increased tolls will give them the billions needed to upgrade transit and railroad systems. 

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