U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was at Troy's Hudson River waterfront this morning to call for $6.7 million in federal spending to reinforce the Collar City's seawall.
Schumer is urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to swiftly approve $6.7 million in federal funds for much-needed repairs and improvements to the Troy seawall, which was severely damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene three years ago. “We’re gonna fight hard for it.”
The total cost of the project comes in at just over $9 million. Tom Nardacci, President of the Troy Business Improvement District, notes that the deadline to shore up the seawall is long gone. "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. So, I'm not a math person but it's pretty easy to figure out how bad of a shape we're in."
Schumer added that failing to secure the funding could threaten redevelopment downtown if the seawall, built in 1922, is breached during another storm. "A seawall failure would be environmentally disastrous for the city of Troy. If nothing happens soon, future storms might knock big chunks of the wall into the river. The wall sits about twenty feet from a major Renssealer County sewage pipe. 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. A rupture of the pipe, the dumping of raw sewage straight into the Hudson would be an environmental disaster not only for Troy, but for hundreds of thousands of people who live downriver."
Fourteen million gallons of sewage pass through the sewage pipeline per day. Schumer appaluded downtown Troy's revival, playing up the fact that public and private investors are positioned to place $50 million into waterfront redevelopment to create new businesses and jobs, erect new apartment complexes and establish a farmer's market along the waterfront. "But if the people know that there's a sea wall about to collapse, they are far less likely to invest."
Schumer thinks FEMA could approve the seawall project in the next few months. "FEMA's slow to approve things. But once they approve things the money tends to come rather quickly. And remember, FEMA makes a commitment to reimburse. So if the city has to lay out the money, as long as FEMA's made the full commitment to reimburse, that's okay."
The seawall needs replacement from State Street to Hutton Street, where engineers determined the weather took its greatest toll.