Editor's note: Sen. Warren had to reschedule her visit to North Adams.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's congressional delegation is taking notice of the 70-year-old flood chutes that contain the Hoosic River.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be in North Adams on Friday afternoon to view the failing panels in the Willow Dell section and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal has a $200,000 earmark in a House appropriations bill for a study on upgrading the system.
The city has requested the U.S. Army Corps to conduct a feasibility study on this system.
The Hoosic River Basin Flood Control System was constructed in the 1940s and 1950s by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the destruction and loss of life in North Adams after a number of devastating floods.
It took 11 years and $18.8 million to dredge and bank some 6 miles of river and contain more than a mile of it with concrete walls.
The concrete panels that bound the river were shorted on rebar, according to Neal, and after nearly 70 years, have passed their useful life and begun to fail and collapse into the river. The collapsing panels have allowed the river to flow behind the flood control system further undermining the structure.
One of the first panels collapsed in Willow Dell and others have been undermined where the river runs through the campus of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Hoosic River Revival found through a preliminary study nearly a decade ago that four sections had fallen and eight were tilting. Three of the fallen slabs were replaced and the city's public services department jury-rigged a steel brace for an area near the end of Building 6.
The nonprofit initiative has been working on ways to re-naturalize and integrate the river while maintaining flood control.
Neal had initially asked for $1.5 million as part of his Community Project Funding Request for Fiscal Year 2023. Only $200,000 was earmarked on Thursday by the Appropriations Committee in the $57 billion Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies funding.
The earmark is included in the House bill where it awaits further action.
Neal said the feasibility study is imperative as it must be conducted before any work can begin. The congressman says he has worked with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to give this project the coveted "new start" designation, allowing the Corps to begin receiving funding on its behalf and essentially jumpstart progress.
"As a former mayor, I know how important issues like these are," said Neal in a statement. "Not only will this feasibility study work toward enhancing protections along the Hoosic River Basin, but it will also rehabilitate infrastructure, support the ecosystem, create jobs, and, most importantly, reduce flood risk."
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Continue your weekend at Naumkeag with its guided meditation led by local meditation teacher Sandrine Harris this Friday.
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Tickets are $12 for members or $20 for non-members. Registration is required. The class starts at 4 p.m. so participants have to arrive early to park and walk to the gardens. Admittance will not be permitted after 4.
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