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2013-12-22 at 17:48

Looking for a solution

By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
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A long term solution to connect Thunder Bay and the Fort William First Nation won't happen without support from other levels of government, says the city's mayor.

Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs and Fort William First Nation chief Georjann Morriseau are planning to meet to discuss potential solutions to provide a vehicular connection to the two communities with the James Street swing bridge out of commission until the new year.

A new bridge would be an ideal solution to Hobbs, but he acknowledged the cost of the project would mean assistance would be required.

“It’s probably looking at $80 million at least so that’s way out of Thunder Bay’s realm and it’s probably way out of the Fort William First Nation’s realm as well,” Hobbs said.

The two were scheduled to meet last week but had to postpone due to inclement weather.

Nevertheless, Hobbs insisted the issue is a priority, and that he has a potential solution.

“The (Ministry of Transportation) apparently has Bailey bridges available so I want to explore that and see if we can get something temporary at the very least and then look at the long-term fix,” Hobbs said.

A Bailey bridge is a temporary and portable truss structure that was developed in the Second World War. They can be quickly and relatively easy to assemble and can support vehicular traffic.

While the idea of a Bailey bridge would be a start, it would not be a long-term fix.

The idea of a new bridge is something that Hobbs had discussed early in his mayoral term with former Fort William First Nation chief Peter Collins.

Vehicular access to the First Nation has been limited to Chippewa Road from Highway 61 after the James Street point of entry was closed by the bridge fire on Oct. 29.

Initially there were concerns about about what the detour would mean for emergency services accessing the community.

Superior North EMS said earlier this month they would not set up a temporary base in the community in wake of response times increasing by five to six minutes.

Hobbs has not heard any specific issues as a result of the slightly longer emergency service response times, but said he is concerned about potential economic impacts.

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Tbnewswatch.com(34)

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Comments

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Tbay99 says:
Where is this "fiscally conservative" mayor I voted for?
12/22/2013 6:58:27 PM
fastball says:
Mr. Hobbs is doing the exact same thing that Ms. Peterson did for a decade - that is, run the city according to plan, and reacting to circumstances when they occur.
It's funny that the same guys who accused Ms. Peterson as a crazed spender and voted her out of office, are now saying the exact same thing about Hobbs.
Maybe both of them are doing the same thing - namely, trying to shake this city out of its decades-long doldrums and take it to the next level. Even if they have to do it with the usual whiners and chronic complainers kicking and screaming the whole way.
12/22/2013 11:10:19 PM
Ed itw says:
I don't really see an reason for the city to contribute.
12/22/2013 7:11:35 PM
S Duncan says:
Ft. William/Simpson St. bridge over the Neebing river was closed for over a full year. Vickers St. Bridge almost as long. Cameron St. bridge was closed for 5 months ish.

Golf Links Rd was closed for 5 months and traffic on the Harbour Expressway reduced to ridiculously slow speeds.

Why is Hobbs so up in arms over 3 months to FWFN? There is an alternate route that takes a whole 5 minutes longer. What is the big deal Keith?

Why all the special considerations? Why are you so focused on this bridge when all of the City of Thunder Bay citizens have dealt with much greater and more extensive delays to our everyday traffic issues?

So what gives Keith? Why are you so anxious to cater to the people of FWFN rather than focus on the needs of the city you are actually the mayor of?

Keith, you have become a tremendous disgrace to Thunder Bay because you pander to special interests and causes that are not your concern nor are they your duties. Please resign immediately.
12/22/2013 7:54:27 PM
Gord says:
None of those changes you mention made more than one minute difference in travel time. This takes much more than five minutes. Why so angry over this S.Duncan?
12/22/2013 9:10:09 PM
fastball says:
Is he NOT supposed to do anything about it? Is he NOT supposed to try to get the thing rebuilt/reopened? Of course he has to make the attempt - it's called "doing his job". Why the comparisons to Golf Links Road?? Yes, it was closed for 5 months as it was getting rebuilt - so I'm not quite understanding the point of your rant.
The mayor has to try to get all parties concerned to the table..because as the first paragraph quite plainly states, senior levels of government have to kick in to get work started on opening it up for traffic.
So I'm not sure what your point is...unless your feeble attempt at making some imaginary point is that the Mayor is treating this scenario differently because the FN are involved.
I don't see any "special considerations" in play here - the mayor is just doing his job.
12/22/2013 9:11:56 PM
S Duncan says:
Its CN's bridge. They are working on it. They said could be 3 months.

What's the mayor and chief so angry about?

We get traffic delays all the time, the swing bridge is being dealt with by the people who own and maintain it. Surely we live with it for that whole 3 months? We live with much worse delays in this city when things aren't right.

Why cant Keith and Georgann?
12/22/2013 10:39:47 PM
Decide says:
"pander"...could not have said it better. 2 thumbs up.
12/22/2013 11:43:13 PM
Today1 says:
I agree with you. They are not stranded nor isolated by any means. Vehicular access has been restricted to Thunder Bay from Nipigon, by one highway for ever. There are way bigger issues for FWFN and the City to worry about. Maybe add a "FWFN bridge gas tax" to help pay for the bridge.
12/22/2013 11:47:26 PM
nat_geo says:
S Duncan, can't make a valid point but sure can click that "Agree" button repeatedly!
12/23/2013 12:08:51 AM
nopatience4stupidity says:
Please lets not forget CN's role and responsibility in this. Odd how CN wasn't even mentioned in the article. Though I've never seen the contract produced, "in perpetuity" seems to be the phrase that everyone tosses around for access. Apparently now that's only when its convenient for CN ...
12/22/2013 8:08:15 PM
The Beaver..... says:
Mr. Mayor there are no economic benefits in that bridge that are currently not served. What is it you do not understand the people that live on the periphery of the City (Neebing) travel the highway every day are you willing to go to bat for them to have a 4 lane highway or is that too hard for you to understand. Please Sir think before you speak. You are sounding like a super fool more and more every day. You should be telling us there is good access to the reserve and it takes only 4 or 5 minutes more.
Norm Gale realised that and he said so. Gasoline is available in the City for only slightly more then across the bridge do you not understand that.
12/22/2013 9:47:20 PM
freepostg says:
S.Duncan says it all and I agree with his/her points. Well said.
12/22/2013 10:40:17 PM
analyst1 says:
Hey Gord, you obviously never needed to drive Golf Links if you think that detour was less than a minute. When the Harbouview/Golf Links intersection was closed, if you needed to get to the north side of the city from James St or Edward St, it required a significant detour. It took over 5 minutes JUST to get off William St (along with everyone else in the city travelling north) onto Balmoral. Then you had to go up to Oliver and double back to get to Golf Links or - even worse - all the way back the expressway. So don't tell me it was one minute of extra driving. I know - I drove it daily. On the other hand, it takes me exactly 5 minutes extra to get to First Nations Arena without the swing bridge. I don't like the detour but it is not that bad. The vast majority of the traffic is simply for people gassing up.
12/22/2013 11:02:17 PM
humnchuck says:
A Bailey bridge would require, I would think, a low-level approach on either riverbank. Not sure that's viable anywhere near the James St. crossing due to the high riverbanks and bluffs, so would something be more workable down towards Mission Island (e.g. the end of 108th Ave. by the generating station)? That's going to be a problem for any shipping traffic heading upriver on the Mission/Kam come spring, however (Western Grain has had a few ships in this year, and there are tankers into the fuel terminal near the Jacknife Bridge).
12/22/2013 11:02:37 PM
sd says:
@S Duncan
I am curious where your name came from....it could be that it is your real name, if so I find that interesting being an S Duncan myself
I find it more likely that you took it from the time I posted my real name in a comment because like most people I am not ashamed to hide behind false identities and nicknames
12/23/2013 12:41:22 AM
S Duncan says:
My name came from my parents. Where did you get yours?

Its a pretty common surname in case you haven't realized that yet. I suggest you just mind your own business and focus on the content of a persons post instead of the name beside it. Nobody cares what your name is so stop bragging about it. Unless you are desperate for attention, why would you go about posting details about yourself?
12/23/2013 10:31:53 AM
spazz says:
some classic trolling there. If everyone was minding thier own business you would have to go back to watching game shows and you'd be bored again.
12/24/2013 1:49:45 PM
jonthunder says:
Surely, many must realize the importance of the bridge to all in Thunder Bay, the Fort William First Nation citizens, and the region. First and foremost is public safety and the Hwy 61 detour is very, very dangerous and will result in harm. Economically, there can be no denying the importance of the bridge to all in Thunder Bay and the Fort William First Nation; where do people think the people of the Fort William First Nation spend their money, attend post secondary schools, get most of their health care and other services? A bridge in such a location is a necessity. It will take time to find a repair and/or replacement; in the interim something must be done to make Hwy 61 safer for everyone - currently Ontario is failing the city on this matter. A happy and safe Xmas/Festive season to all, and may we all find the spirit of human decency and compassion to support one another and address this most urgent issue.
12/23/2013 5:22:36 AM
Tiredofit says:
I can't believe some of the responses posted. So basically we are supposed to just let them be? How many city residents work over there? Given the line ups for gas and smokes by city folks etc... How many of you use Chippewa? s
sandy Beach, work at the mill, elevators, Costal Steel and the list goes on...

I'd rather see city pour money into this than some of the other questionable things of late. CN will make this last as long as they can, their only priority has been resolved. This is creating far to many dangerous situations and accidents to date on HWY61, 3 accidents thang I know of and I'm sure there's more, only till a fatality occurs will it be taken serious by you.

Thank you Keith & Georjann for taking this so seriously!
12/23/2013 6:46:24 AM
S Duncan says:
When the city failed to maintain their part of the Jack Knife bridge and decided to abandon the vehicle travelled part of it, they forced all those people who work on McKellar and Mission Islands to take a significantly longer route to get to work... permanently.

The people that live on the islands no longer had a nice direct route to downtown, they now have to travel significantly longer distances. They are also not serviced by public transit like FWFN is via Chippewa.

So, why are you and Hobbs crying about this bridge, and not that one?

Do you realize how many people work at the coal terminal? the Ontario Hydro plant? etc..?

12/23/2013 10:40:56 AM
Watchmaker says:
The city and FWFN would do better to leave CN out of the discussion on this. The bridge is needed and will be built, hopefully something temporary can be put in place before someone gets seriously injured or killed at the Chippewa/Hwy 61 intersection.
12/23/2013 7:54:48 AM
unknowncronik says:
build a tunnel under the water if a bridge is out of reach...sounds like logical city council thinking does it not??

why not use a ferry to ferry peeps across the river even?? lol...
12/23/2013 9:18:39 AM
dockboy says:
This is CN's responsibility, just to appease certain people the taxpayer's on the hook for this, I don't think so Kieth.
12/23/2013 10:36:07 AM
tbayzajoketown says:
This joke town can't even afford to take away the snowbanks on the main arterial routes, how are they going to afford to pay 4 a bridge. Hopefully it keeps on snowing and adds millions 2 this joke towns debt.
12/23/2013 11:04:50 AM
DougMyers says:
I cannot believe the ignorant response on here. Apparently none of you need to drive hwy 61 on a daily basis. It is only a matter of time before someone is killed at that intersection. It was never designed for the amount if traffic that is currently using it.

Those that are most successful take advantage if opportunities. This may well be an opportunity to replace a very old and narrow bridge by leveraging other levels if government. We know the railway is intentionally dragging their feet. Two days to reopen touch heavier rail traffic but months just to figure out what to do about vehicular traffic?

Keep going mayor Hobbs. Contrary to the few pessimists on here you still have plenty of support.
12/23/2013 12:17:19 PM
Who-cares says:
Why is it that traffic heading into town cannot use Hwy 130 to Arthur st, or to Rosslyn Rd, even cut up Riverdale Rd to 130. I'm sure this in an alternative route into town. Also what has happened to the investigation as to the actual cause of the fire? I don't recall ever hearing anything about it, since the days after the fire???? Plus I'm all for a new bridge as long as my tax dollars don't pay for it, make it a toll bridge. Let the people that are going to use it pay for it, I'm sick and tired of the city subsidizing every cause, that cries the loudest with my (our) tax dollars.
12/23/2013 12:21:39 PM
123whatnext says:
Safety first, Mayor Hobbs should use his power in demanding that MTO temporarily impose a 60km/h speed limit before and after Chippewa Road.
Second, do a big $$$ study to see if there is a problem, like everyone thinks there is( about HWY 61 detour).
Time for City managers to do something proactive.
12/23/2013 12:53:04 PM
rootbear says:
They are playing right into CN's hands. I love the idea of making it a toll bridge rather than funding it from our tax dollars. I don't use that bridge why should I pay for it?
12/23/2013 1:15:41 PM
Jim Halpert says:
Could probably pay for repairs to the bridge with all the fines collected during the two bridge blitzes back in the summer.
12/23/2013 1:44:00 PM
Cletus Van Damme says:
I hope they never rebuild the bridge.
12/23/2013 2:03:16 PM
ibrando says:
Don't really care if/when the swing bridge opens. Highway 61 - Chippewa Road access is fine.
12/23/2013 2:42:54 PM
FWFNandTBay says:
Seems what every one forgets is the actual expropriation of land by CN (formerly Grand Trunk Pacific) from FWFN in the early 1900s. CN has benefitted for almost a century by hauling multi millions of dollars across that bridge. Did they build it? Yes. Did CN benefit from it? Yes. Everyone forgets that FWFN had to uproot their entire community which use to be located on that land. Not because they wanted to move, but because the Federal Government told them to move. The GTP wanted it at all expenses. FWFN had to even move their graves of the dead. It's the responsibility of CN and the Federal Government to build a new bridge. It's no longer a luxury to have a bridge connecting communities. No different than they (CN) stills expects to profit off the land that was not theirs to begin with.
12/23/2013 2:55:10 PM
The Beaver..... says:
If the Mayor is so intent to solve traffic problems then he should have a look at Arthur street. It is not possible to get out of the Plaza at Shoppers Drugmart and Post Office making a left hand turn to go west in the afternoon. The Traffic lights on James and on Mountdale are causing the problem that could easily be overcome. If the one at James is green the one on Mountdale is red and will turn green to allow that traffic to move.The result is that there is a overlapping constant flow of traffic in either direction. After four oclock you will be forced to make a right hand turn because you will never get to make a left hander.
12/24/2013 9:19:34 AM
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