MTA wants NYC Marathon to cough up $750k for lost tolls during race

The MTA’s latest congestion pricing scheme: charge runners for crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The transit agency is waging war against the organizers of the New York City Marathon — demanding $750,000 to make up for toll revenue lost during the iconic race.

And if New York Road Runners doesn’t pay up, it’s threatening to restrict use of the bridge, potentially reducing the number of runners who can compete in the wildly popular event each November, the New York Times reported Wednesday, citing internal memos.

During hardball negotiations, the MTA initially said runners — who start the marathon on Staten Island — would only be allowed to use the darker lower deck of the bridge for the 26.2-mile race if organizers don’t pay up.

Officials backtracked slightly, though, in recent weeks by saying marathon organizers could have their pick of the upper or lower level for the race — but not both, according to the memos.

The marathon, which is expected to draw 50,000 entrants for this year’s race, has used both decks of the Verrazzano bridge for the past 36 years.

Staten Island's Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge during the marathon
The MTA is demanding New York City Marathon organizers cough up roughly $750,000 a year to make up for toll revenue lost from shuttering Staten Island’s Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. REUTERS

New York Road Runners isn’t caving to the MTA’s demands.

They have argued they’ll have to likely restrict the number of entries going forward if runners are banned from using both levels. Otherwise, the race’s duration will have to be extended — meaning the bridge and local streets will be shuttered for longer to allow all runners to complete the race, according to the memos..

“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,” the president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, Catherine Sheridan, 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.”

In 2021, New York Road Runners started paying some personal costs tied to shutting down the bridge for the marathon. For last year’s race, the group said it forked over $150,000.

Separately, the MTA has also demanded Bike New York — an organization that uses the bridge’s bottom level during its annual Five Boro Bike Tour each May — to cough up, too.

It wasn’t immediately clear how much Bike New York has been ordered to pay, but the transit agency threatened to ban the group from using the bridge if it doesn’t agree, the Times reported.

News of the negotiations emerged a week after the MTA’s board approved the controversial congestion pricing plan to slap drivers with a $15 toll to enter Midtown Manhattan below 60th Street.

The MTA has long argued the increased tolls will generate billions for much needed transit and railroad upgrades for the cash-strapped system.

The tolls on the Verrazzano Bridge, too, subsidize the Big Apple’s subway and bus system.

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