The Rensselaer & Saratoga’s proposed route was opposed by citizens of Lansingburgh who objected to the noise and smoke it would bring to their village. The railway also faced the exorbitant demands of the Union Bridge Company which held the exclusive right to maintain a Hudson River crossing within two miles of its existing span. A revised route which crossed the Hudson from Troy to Green Island and then ran north along the west bank to Cohoes where it crossed the mouth of the Mohawk via three bridges that leapfrogged the islands in the estuary to Waterford was adopted.
Isaac Damon of Northampton, Massachusetts and Joseph Hayward of West Troy (now Watervliet), New York were award the contract of build a ten span, eight pier, Town lattice structure across the Hudson from a site just north of Federal Street in Troy, passing over Center (now Starbuck) Island and, terminating in Green Island. Construction began in 1834. The completed bridge was 1,616 feet long, roofed and included 60 foot swing draw span at its eastern end which permitted ships to pass. Its width was sufficient for a railroad track, a carriage road and a foot way. The first train of cars passed over it on October 6, 1835.
Rail cars were drawn by horses from Green Island across the bridge and through River Street to the office of the company at No. 10 First Street until 1853 when the first of Troy’s three Union Stations was completed at Sixth and Fulton Streets. That same year, the bridge was widened by an addition to its north side and divided into two parts by filling in earth on Centre Island. This permitted access to the Starbuck Brothers’ Iron Works on the Island. On Saturday, February 7, 1857, another Rensselaer & Saratoga covered bridge, this one across the second branch of the Mohawk River between Cohoes and Waterford, was swept from its piers by fast rising water released following the breaking up of ice on the river. It was carried over the state dam and came to rest at the north side of the bridge between Troy and Green Island. On Saturday noon, May 10, 1862, sparks from a passing locomotive lodged in the shingle roof of the eastern end of the eastern section of the bridge and set it on fire. Gale force winds blowing from the northwest soon carried the flames to the rest of the structure. Firemen found it to extinguish them. Great tongues of flame leaped high above the blazing bridge, which soon fell into the river, and parts of the burning structure, floating with the current, imperiled the steamboats and the smaller craft cabled along the wharves. The burning embers ignited roof tops between Federal and Congress streets from the river east to Eighth Street. When the inferno was brought under control, Troy was in ruins, some 500 buildings, with an appraised value of $2,677,892 had been destroyed and at least eight people were dead. Immediately thereafter the construction of a new section of the bridge was begun. While the structure was building a ferry was established between Troy and Centre Island for the transfer of freight and passengers. On Saturday, September 23, 1865, a crew from the Albany & Vermont Railroad failed to notice that the draw span was open and backed the locomotive Jay Gould out of the bridge and into the Hudson. The western section of the present iron bridge was built in 1876 and the eastern in 1884.