Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-07-16 at 4:13PM

Work together

The James Street Swing Bridge could cost up to $3 million to repair before it can be reopened to vehicle traffic.
Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com
The James Street Swing Bridge could cost up to $3 million to repair before it can be reopened to vehicle traffic.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION, Ont. --  Dan Morriseau believes Fort William First Nation should contribute financially to repairing the James Street Swing Bridge.

"It wouldn't hurt to have contributions from anybody that can help," said the Fort William First Nation man Wednesday morning.

"The city, the railroad and the reserve I think should get together and fix up the bridge," he said.

On Tuesday, CN sent letters to Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs and Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau laying out two choices to open the bridge that was closed to vehicle traffic after a fire last October.

The first option includes the railway paying 50 per cent, up to $1.5 million, to have vehicles share the rail deck if the city discharges the company from a 1906 agreement to maintain the bridge in perpetuity.

The other option is to have the company cover all costs and head to court over the more than 100-year-old agreement between the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the town of Fort William.

Dan Morriseau said he thinks the three agencies should sit down and figure out the cost-sharing, anything to hurry along the process of re-opening the bridge.

"Just yesterday there was a lineup for two miles back here because they were working on the road for construction. If someone needed an emergency vehicle, how were they going to get that?" he said.

"There's no way it's going to come. That to me is a shame."

Mission Road resident Andre Gladu also feels Fort William First Nation should chip into repairing the bridge.

"We use it so we should be able to pay for it, too," he said, adding the closure has been a nuisance.

However, community member Dennis Long said there is no way the First Nation should be paying for the repairs, at least not a major portion of it.

"Maybe it could be a 75 split where CN pays 75 per cent and the city and the First Nation split the other 25," he said.

Thunder Bay resident Bill Conway also thinks the bridge is responsibility of the railway, not Fort William First Nation.

But also thinks that if the community, the city and CN shared the cost, it would make things easier for area residents whether travelling to the First Nation or the city.

Just as businesses in Fort William First Nation are hurting because of the closure, so are businesses in Westfort, said Conway, noting on his way to visit the First Nation, he would often stop in the Frederica Street area to buy coffee and a sandwich.

"I don't stop there anymore," he said.

CN gave both the city and Fort William First Nation until Tuesday at 5 p.m. to respond to their letters.


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