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Troy Seawall Project: Completed

Troy's new seawall, celebrated last week, has been nine years in the making.

In April 2014, then-Mayor Lou Rosamilia expressed concern. Downtown's first defense against flooding was rapidly deteriorating. The seawall, built in 1922, was badly damaged during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

Rosamilia noted that the original report mentioning the seawall needed attention came out decades ago. Tom Nardacci, then-President of the Troy Business Improvement District, said that the deadline to shore up the seawall had long past.

"The first report that mentioned the seawall needed attention was in the late 1970s. The report said, I believe, that the sea wall had 25 or so years left."

Some repairs were made in 1978. Engineers constantly kept an eye on the wall. A top concern was that a 60-inch sewer main ran parallel to and in close proximity of the wall. Fourteen million gallons of sewage pass through the pipeline each day. If anything caused a rupture, there would be ecological disaster. New York U.S. Senator Charles Schumer got involved.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
NY Senator Charles Schumer at the Troy Seawall in 2014 with then-Mayor Lou Rosamilia.

"God forbid the wall breaks down to a point that the sewage pipe is exposed and tons and tons and tons of raw sewage go right into the Hudson."

The Democrat appealed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, later announcing he was able to secure more than $14 million in FEMA funding to upgrade the seawall. The project was expected to take two years to complete at a total cost of $24 million. By 2018, work was underway. At Troy’s Riverfront Park, Schumer reflected on his previous visit to the seawall.

“I promised that day to fight to bring the needed federal dollars to reconstruct the seawall. I’m glad to say we have succeeded.”

Construction included a new cap installed on the seawall. A 3-foot retaining wall was placed on top, adding more flood protection. A new marina replaced the one wrecked by Irene.

Schumer returned to Troy last week to celebrate the seawall's completion, proclaiming it a new era for the waterfront.

The refurbished seawall has been designed to complement other private and public projects that officials believe will attract more development and lure tourists to the waterfront.

"The city can finally begin to usher a new rebirth, a new strength to Downtown Troy, new economic investment to the waterfront and the entire community. And Troy is ready. Local officials, many of whom are here today, have done a great job in recent years, lining up investments into the Troy waterfront, getting ready for the moment when the seawall was completed. Some of the projects are this nice expansion of Riverfront Park North, big-time upgrade to the Troy Dock and Marina, and, it's important to the developing future of One Monument Square as well."

Mayor Patrick Madden says it's a legacy investment for future generations of the Collar City.

"It allows us to reinstitute the marina, on the other side of the wall here, which will be in full operation next year, beginning of the season. It's a big investment, big boost for the city of Troy, particularly the downtown. And this Riverfront Park continues the effort to reach out from Downtown Troy up into the neighborhoods in North Central. So the trails go up behind the Hedley Building, up into North Central and were looking to link it with the marina we were able to open a couple of years ago."

Seawall upgrades include the addition of new steel and concrete to existing bulkheads, strengthening its structure. Overall, the project rebuilt approximately 3,500 liner feet of seawall between north of the Hedley Building and Monument Square.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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