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New York closes bridges for its marathon. Runners should pay for the unpaid tolls, the MTA demands

By Jeff Winter, CNN

(CNN) — The Metropolitan Transit Authority says it wants the organizers of New York City’s marathon to pay $750,000 a year, citing the steep loss of bridge toll revenues for closing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Staten Island-Brooklyn connection that has served as the starting point for the race for decades.

“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,” MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Catherine Sheridan said in a statement. “The MTA is prepared to continue working towards a final agreement with the NYRR, provided it leads, over time, to full reimbursement for the lost revenue.”

With about 50,000 runners expected to participate in the marathon on the first Sunday in November, the $750,000 the MTA demands works out to $15 per runner. The Verrazano E-ZPass toll is $7.

The New York Road Runners, which organizes the race, says that the marathon already generates millions of dollars for the city’s economy, and that the amount MTA proposed would make the race less affordable.

“We value our partnership with all the City and State agencies that allow us to stage all of our events, including the marathon,” NYRR said in a statement. “We remain willing to negotiate, but any resolution should reflect the significant value the M.T.A. derives from the marathon, including the increased ridership over marathon weekend.”

2023’s marathon raised more than $60 million for charity, according to NYRR, and subway ridership to the race accounted for the highest number of paid rides in almost four years, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office..

The MTA recently voted to approve congestion pricing in New York City, making it the first US city to charge such a toll. Lawmakers say the MTA’s controversial congestion pricing plan will mitigate traffic and help fund repairs to key infrastructure. Despite the approval and expected implementation of the tolling plan, multiple lawsuits, such as one spearheaded by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, designed to block the plan, are still pending.

CNN’s Nathaniel Meyerson contributed to this report.

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