The James Street Bridge remains closed after a fire Tuesday evening.
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The closure of the James Street bridge after a major fire Tuesday night is causing a lot of concern for those who depend on it.
With harvest season wrapped up in the west its a busy time for local grain elevators including Superior Elevator, which is located on the South side of the Kam River. The elevator and its 42 employees were seeing around 116 train cars a day roll in and out before the fire.
Manager Darin D'Aleo said with the bridge out, there's no way to handle grain shipments.
"It's longer term that we would be more worried about," he said.
Depending on how long the bridge is closed, Superior might have to find alternative elevators for its customers.
"At the end of the day that's what we're here to do. We're here to handle grain so we need to figure out a way to make that happen," D'Aleo said.
So far the elevator hasn't heard from CN rail about timelines but he's hoping that changes by Thursday morning.
Patsy Bourgeois is also hoping to hear about plans for the bridge, which is currently being treated as a criminal investigation, as soon as possible.
The Bannon's Gas Bar cashier lives in Westfort and walks to work every day. On Wednesday morning she tried to cross the bridge and found it closed and barricaded. She tried to hitchhike to work before a friend passed by and offered her a ride. But she can't rely on that every day.
"I just have no clue how I'm going to get back and forth every day," she said.
That's a concern for Fort William First Nation in general. Coun. Cathy Rodger said there are already people who can't afford bus fare walking down Chippewa Road and Hwy 61 to get into Thunder Bay.
"That's a considerable walk and dangerous," Rodger said.
The extra 10 or so kilometres is also adding an estimated two to three minutes onto response times for emergency services.
"Every minute makes you more stressed out," Rodger said.
Fort William First Nation sees the opportunity to discuss rebuilding the bridge with CN and Thunder Bay. Heavy traffic has always been a concern for residents but now that the bridge has been damaged, that adds to the worry.
"It's been a hot topic for some time," Rodger said.
In a statement through the Union of Ontario Indians Wednesday Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau said she would be pursuing the cost of replacing the bridge altogether.
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