FILE -- Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
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Chief Georjann Morriseau is frustrated by the lack of commitment from CN Rail officials on the future of the James Street Swing Bridge.
"(The fire) happened Oct. 29 and we're going on in months now with no real indication or response," the chief of Fort William First Nation said Monday in an interview with CKPR Radio.
Morriseau and other Fort William First Nation officials met with CN officials in Edmonton last week and the chief said the railway is adamant they won't have any word on the bridge that was damaged by fire last October until they receive their engineering report at the end of March.
"I understand that safety is first and foremost and I do know these types of reports take time, but at the same time, there has to be a goal and objective at the end and we haven't even been given that," said Morriseau.
CN did tell Morriseau that even if the bridge was repaired to its previous state, it is still a hazard and a safety issue.
"There's not even anything for even a short-term opening of the bridge, which is what we were hoping and anticipating when we sat with them," she said.
"They are absolutely not in favour of opening that bridge even for a short time."
The chief added her community is in a difficult position because they aren't a party to the agreement between the railway and the city of Thunder Bay on the bridge, but the fate of the structure impacts the First Nation the most.
"Fort William can only push and ask and demand as much as possible," she said. "We don't have an agreement to enforce."
While negotiations will be between the city and the railway, Morriseau said they are willing to work with the city and help move it forward.
The idea of building a new bridge connecting FWFN to Thunder Bay is premature and is a project that needs to be discussed between both communities, Morriseau said.
While waiting to learn the future of the swing bridge, Morriseau hopes to meet with Ministry of Transportation officials to improve safety at Chippewa Road and Highway 61.
"That highway is ridiculously unsafe," she said.
"It's fast. It's extremely dangerous right now during the winter."
Morriseau would like to see speed limits reduced, adequate lighting and a temporary traffic light at the intersection.
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