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New York City Marathon fights massive new bridge toll

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wants NYRR to pay $750,000 for lost toll revenue on the Verazzano-Narrows bridge

New York City Marathon Photo by: Kevin Morris

In November, more than 50,000 runners will run the New York City Marathon on an iconic route that includes numerous bridge crossings, including, at the start, the spectacular Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Staten Island with Brooklyn. Both upper and lower portions of the bridge have been used for the marathon since 1988. As The New York Times reports, however, this year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (M.T.A.), is demanding that the New York Road Runners (NYRR), who organize the marathon, pay $750,000 for lost toll revenue while the bridge is closed to traffic.

Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

This demand has sparked a standoff, with the M.T.A. initially threatening to confine runners to the bridge’s lower deck, then deciding to allow use of the upper level, albeit contingent on a payment agreement.

NYRR, highlighting the marathon’s significance as a homegrown institution and an economic boon for the city, has appealed to Governor Kathy Hochul for intervention. It argues that the event’s benefits outweigh the lost toll revenue, citing increased subway ridership on race day as evidence. NYRR began paying the personnel costs of closing the bridge in 2021; last year, the organization says it paid $150,000.

Should the two groups not come to an agreement, NYRR says it may have to extend the length of the race to allow all runners to finish (resulting in longer road and bridge closures and more competitors running in the dark) or reduce the number of participants accepted.

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