Progressing into the Wind

From The Front Lines
richard j. hendrick

In 2024, Albany, the capital of New York, will mark the 400th anniversary of its founding as Fort Orange, an early foothold for Dutch traders that helped create a new nation. The remains of the original fort are a stone’s throw away from the current economic and transportation ecosystem of the Port of Albany. This adjacency underscores how the Port has always been at the leading edge and has long served as a connector – through navigation, commerce, and community – from the Northeastern U.S. to the greater world.

The largest inland port in the northeast, the Port of Albany is located only 124 nautical miles north of the Battery in New York Harbor, on both the east and west sides of the Hudson River, and has 450 acres in four municipalities: the city of Albany, the city of Rensselaer, the town of East Greenbush and the town of Bethlehem.

Under the leadership of a Board of Commissioners appointed by the New York State governor, the Port has been working to grow – by land size, investment, and job opportunities – to add to the commerce engine that serves our Capital Region.

progressing into the wind

The port recently completed the reconstruction of its comprehensive maritime terminal, representing approximately a 30-acre space, as well as adjacent roadways – the first time in the port’s 90-plus year history that the entire maritime terminal was entirely reconstructed and expanded. This project was the latest in a series of more than $100 million in upgrades and construction that are part of the port’s Maritime Infrastructure Improvement Plan to leverage additional heavy lift and project cargo handling enhancements and to improve safety, efficiency, and reliability. In addition to the terminal improvements, projects have included construction of a new 45,000 square-foot Big Lift warehouse, reconstruction of 840 feet of the south wharf/RORO infrastructure, construction of a new 60,000 square-foot warehouse, and renovation of a 58,000 square-foot warehouse with adjacent rail track that will serve intermodal movement at higher capacities. The Port of Albany, New York is truly building for the future!

In addition to investing in traditional maritime infrastructure, the Port of Albany continues to strategically expand, and has opened the door to offshore wind supply chain manufacturing, an emerging industry in the U.S. In 2018, the Port of Albany acquired, began developing, and has since received full permitting, for 100 acres for the first offshore wind tower manufacturing operation in the U.S.

The Expansion Project at the Port of Albany is unique and extremely complex – there are land, in-water, overwater, and wetland permitting considerations that have all been designed and permitted. This project will build, from the ground up – including the installation of all new utilities – more than 626,000 square-feet of manufacturing space across five buildings, a new heavy-capacity bridge, and 500 feet of new wharf at 6,000 PSF. This project was selected by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) in the second round of offshore wind energy procurement, and is intended to supply U.S.-made offshore wind towers to meet New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) goals and generate hundreds of new jobs locally.

Economic development opportunities surrounding the port’s Expansion Project have the potential to enrich local municipalities and additional support businesses, create employment opportunities that offer a generational shift for local environmental justice communities, establish the foundation of a new sector of manufacturing, and be the linchpin in a U.S. offshore wind supply chain.

Impacts from inflation, global supply chain issues, labor force pressures, and the complexity of the permitting process forced actual project costs to more than double. As sailors know, sometimes you must turn into the wind to make the most progress. The Port of Albany and our project partners are committed to finding solutions to meet these funding challenges and ensure that the project moves forward in a phased approach to meet the industry’s aggressive schedule.

Much like our resilient Dutch forebearers, we understand the difficulties of being first and breaking new ground. And the port’s Expansion Project will continue to strive to be part of the infrastructure that will help combat climate change for generations to come.

There’s a lot to navigate in the Hudson River, but here at the Port of Albany, we excel at navigating big projects, moving important cargo, and building lasting partnerships that create a lot of good for a lot of people.