Tbnewswatch Local News
Saturday July 4 2015
10:42 PM EDT
2014-03-03 at 13:30

Frustration grows

FILE -- Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
FILE -- Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

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.


Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
The Beaver.... says:
@ Shark Also an American company owns it now and if it's less than a hundred yrs they have no obligation to that agreement as they never made it.
CN is one of Canada's largest and best corporations ever. Yes you are right they do own several American Railroads
but that does not make them American

3/4/2014 10:25:32 AM
Papercut says:

Obviously you don't travel much on the highways.

You have vehicles travelling on a highway, at highway speed....THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSE TO DO.

I suggest, you stick to walking over the overpass.
3/4/2014 9:04:12 AM
Eastender says:
Papercut, for your information, speed is not the priority, or right, of travel on any roadway or highway. SAFETY is. You must adjust your driving and speed to conform to conditions that may prevail at any given time, be it weather, construction, traffic conditions, darkness, among other possible conditions. Yes, eve someone who does not speed up as fast as you would like them to. You do not have a right to travel the speed limit unless all conditions are met for you to do so safely.

Might I suggest you take a driver safety course before you kill yourself or someone else.
3/4/2014 7:26:16 PM
jonthunder says:
Thank you Shark...now will the mayor or city please post the exact details of the terms of the agreement with the media? If not, what are our city politicians and administration hiding?
3/4/2014 12:12:47 AM
Shark says:
A note to the posters about CN's agreement with the city for upkeep of the bridge. The agreement was for 100 yrs. I do believe it is now 105 yrs. Also an American company owns it now and if it's less than a hundred yrs they have no obligation to that agreement as they never made it.
3/3/2014 11:40:06 PM
jonthunder says:
If the rail agreement is with the city why does the city not simply state what the terms are re: if and for how long the railway must allow vehicle traffic on the bridge - that could calm some of the concerns. The city should be open and honest with the public and this starts with the mayor. The Chief of the FW First Nation is correct in that it is a city and railway agreement and it is up to them to deal with it, and come clean with the public. I also concur, Hwy. 61 is currently a very dangerous route to the community and needs changes immediately in the interest of safety and all people's lives.
3/3/2014 10:02:16 PM
jaxoon says:
I suspect that CN doesn't have enough business on the south side of the river to warrant the repair, maintenance & liability of that bridge.
3/3/2014 10:00:17 PM
passlake says:
"...until they receive their engineering report at the end of March."

sounds like the same old story they were feeding us months ago. oh wait...

seriously though, CN has been giving March as a deadline for months now and it's just barely March now.. how is this news?

New headline "CN doing exactly what it said it would... still."
3/3/2014 8:36:09 PM
deluxecustom says:
"The city should make them live up to their deal"? Ha, thats a good one. There is no organization that can, or, will make CN do anything!! Get it? They (CN) are one of, if not the most powerful entity in this country.Fact.FWFN and the rest of the cheapo gas and future cancer people will need to get over the fact that it is quite possible that vehicular traffic crossing this bridge will never again happen.Better start saving for a new bridge missy!
3/3/2014 8:34:13 PM
samps says:
Make it a toll bridge. The people who use it can help keep it in good shape, like a lot of the highway systems in the U.S.
3/3/2014 7:55:47 PM
tiredofit says:
Sadly nothing will be done until a train falls into the river. See the problem is, they make money from the grain and other shipments that cross the bridge almost daily. Foot & vehicle traffic generate ZERO profit for the railway.

Well, the railway travels over FWFN Lands, I suggest they setup a new toll system for the trains.
3/3/2014 7:45:33 PM
Blackheart says:
What some people seem to want to forget is when the bridge was built. The city of fort william gave the railroad land and money. In return they have to maintain the bridge for car traffic. There trains have been going over the bridge just fine. The city should make them live up to there deal!
3/3/2014 6:37:13 PM
Kidknapp says:
With the fabricated $50,000 per day loss, it would be feasible for the reserve to build their own bridge since the loss would be 119 days, totaling 6.2 million to date and counting! CN does not want to be responsible for this bridge and is awaiting engineering results! Could you imagine if they said ok to go ahead and use the bridge for now and something were to happen!
3/3/2014 4:11:30 PM
Glyder says:
It's not really a fabricated number. If you do the math, it works out. Take 5 gas stations, and say they lose 150 customers per day, which is feasible to assume. Also assume that each customer spends $60 (low, I know but it was an even number).

150x5x60 = $45000.

Now obviously there are many other variables, but you stated it was a fabricated number, and I am showing you that it really isn't. $50k is probably lower than what it really is.

That being said, fix the bridge or not, I think everyone would just like an answer.
3/4/2014 9:48:29 AM
S Duncan says:
you had me until you used the word "assume".

and you used it fairly early in your comment so the rest of it didn't carry much weight.

(much like the bridge)
3/4/2014 2:17:48 PM
Eastender says:
Its not fabricated, kidnapp, there used to be 4 lines of vehicles with 6, 7, and 8 cars or more per line. Pretty much any time of the day and week. Now you can drive right up to the pump, no waiting. And that was for just one of the businesses. Multiply that several times.

I would rather see my money go to these businesses than some fat cat local monopolizers, trying to control the sale of gasoline.

Notice how the price has jumped since the bridge fire?

3/4/2014 9:51:17 AM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
Go take a look underneath it, and see just how the bridge is supported, and you tell me if you still think its safe.
3/3/2014 3:58:09 PM
Iceman says:
I travel highway 61 every day, it is perfectly safe. The only problem is the people coming from 61B do not speed up on acceleration lane to highway speed. At the end of the acceleration lane you are supsoe to be at highway speed which is 90 km/hr not 60
3/3/2014 3:43:59 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
You are correct; however the merge lane is too narrow, they need to remove some snow and widen and lengthen the merge lane, when you come around to enter 61 it is very hard to get up to speed...not the best intersection particularly when trucks are trying to merge.
3/3/2014 7:01:12 PM
CarbonFootprinter says:
There is not a designated merge/"acceleration" lane there at all, but only a paved, unmarked shoulder, that some try to use as such.

It's hard to tell now during winter, but there has never been anything other than a yield sign at the end of the line before entering northbound '61.

I agree though, a proper merge lane capable of allowing tractor trailers to run up to speed and merge by the kam river bridge should be under consideration in the MTO's design office right now for spring construction.
3/3/2014 7:29:24 PM
Eastender says:
Heaven forbid that you should have to slow down to accomodate another fellow traveller. The snowbanks are high, obscuring vision. The acceleration lane is shorter and narrower due to snow banks. Smarten up and slow down at this intersection, your not that important
3/4/2014 12:56:34 AM
mystified says:
I agree. Keep it closed to vehicular traffic. If CN said it was a disaster waiting to happen before the fire, they won't spend a nickel on it so get use to the long way around or build your own bridge folks.
3/3/2014 3:31:21 PM
Papercut says:
@whatelse is new:

Your arguement has one giant flaw: you are correct that there are 2 roads: chippewa Rd and Mountain Road, BUT, what you miss is that BOTH empty onto a SINGLE roadway: Highway 61.

Any way, I drive through this mess a few times each day...I think it would be wise to put up a temporary set of lights at the intersection.

Hopefully the situation get's remedied soon.
3/3/2014 3:27:02 PM
The Cougar says:
FWFN has to realize that the priorities of CN are not the same as the First Nation and the City. They are gunna sort the bridge out when it is convenient for them. They've got bigger fillet's of haddock to fry my friends!!
3/3/2014 2:41:46 PM
whatelseisnew says:
I seriously hope CN keeps it closed forever! It was dangerous before the fire even happen and I'm almost certain CN has no obligation to build a completely new bridge for both vehicles and train traffic.

How many roads does the reserve really need? I do not understand why people are constantly crying about this issue, it's not like there are NO roads period. There are 2 roads; Mountain Road and highway 61B (Chippewa Road), how many more do they need? This is nothing more then a convince issue because it takes a whole 5 minutes more to get out there and that shouldn't be a priority reason for having CN rush all because people have a problem with going around.

To be completely honest that train bridge was more dangerous then the nice smooth highway route. The speed bumps coupled with the bumper to bumper traffic was far worse for everyone's health and safety! Let's stop the whining and start coming to terms with what is the present and the future!
3/3/2014 2:17:05 PM
Eastender says:
Regardless of the fact the bridge may be unsafe. CN has an obligation to maintain that roadway in exchange for the right to use public lands upon which they operate their trains. Safely, I might add.

CN is a multibillion dollar multinational corporation, the cost to bring this bridge up to standard is a drop in the bucket for a corporation of this magnitude.

The stalling is just some middle managers way of trying to gain pionts and a cash bonus.

CN would blow a couple million on a whim if it was for flying their executive to some carribean island for a so called conference. So spend the money on the bridge, and be the fine corporate citizen you like us to think you are.
3/4/2014 10:05:03 AM
whatelseisnew says:
I highly doubt that CN has any real obligation to
maintain that roadway in exchange for the right to use public land. If that was the case every highway would be built along side the railway and the railway would be responsible; THAT MAKES NO SENSE! As for their upper managers flying private jets to the Caribbean has nothing to do with the price of tea in China.

At one time perhaps the CN bridge was the only bridge that linked the reserve to Fort William back 100 years ago. Maybe that's why there was a need to share it with vehicles. That is no longer the case is it? Do people think logically anymore or what?
3/4/2014 3:47:04 PM
arjay says:
CNR is becoming noticed across Canada for allowing dangerous situations , become tragic situations.I wonder if the Robinson Superior Treaty has any clout in this matter.
3/3/2014 2:02:46 PM
p.o.ed taxpayer says:
While there is obviously a huge difference in liability for any disaster that involved vehicular traffic vs. a freight train...I still can't understand how this bridge can be safe with the weight of some of these trains...if it is that unstable it should be closed to ALL traffic...a dozen rail cars in the river would be a terrible disaster...guess the lives of the railroad employees aren't valued as much...
3/3/2014 7:11:53 PM
Winger says:
As stated by others, if you were to go under the bridge and see how it is constructed it would be clearer to you.

The main part of the bridge that you see is constructed of steel in a girder/beam like fashion. The rail lines run within that steel superstructure. That's also the part the holds up the bridge tender's shack up top.

The road ways are cantilevered off of that structure. They literally hang off the sides of it. Those roadway sections are not directly supported by that main steel structure. (they are, but not directly)

Think of the bridge supports as your back, and the train weight is carried by your shoulders, the shack is carried by your head, and the roadways are carried by your arms.

those arms are significantly weaker than your shoulders for load carrying. Now when you realize that the arms have been damaged by fire, then it becomes completely obvious why trains can be supported safely but cars cannot.

Go look at it, you'll clearly see.
3/4/2014 9:43:45 AM
Eastender says:
Yeah, so comply with your obligation to maintain vehicle traffic and reinforce the arms. What part does'nt CN get?
3/4/2014 7:11:36 PM
sickandtired says:
Another important thing that seems to be lost in these discussions is ... Who started the fire and when will there be charges laid?
3/3/2014 1:36:23 PM
whatelseisnew says:
Does anyone even care who started the fire any more? Whoever did it possibly saved lives as driving on that bridge was like playing Russian Roulette. Or maybe CN was sick of fixing it all the time. Either way that bridge being out of commission is a blessing!
3/3/2014 6:42:34 PM
Comments for this story are semi-moderated. Read our comment guideline.

Add a new comment.
You must log in to add comments.
Create a new account
Log In