Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
CN vice-president of corporate services Olivier Chouc
THUNDER BAY -- A short-term solution to re-opening the James Street Swing Bridge to vehicle traffic could be found in as little as two weeks.
That's the result of a meeting between the city, Fort William First Nation and CN Friday morning. Engineers from the organizations will meet to discuss short-term options to see whether the bridge will see vehicles again for the first time since a fire last October.
CN vice-president of corporate services Olivier Chouc said the company is very aware of the impact the bridge's closure has had on the city and Fort William First Nation, reiterated in a sometimes heated meeting by mayor Keith Hobbs and Chief Georjann Morriseau Friday.
"CN is committed to respond to that urgency," he said.
Morriseau said the meeting was the by far the most productive conversation the two sides have had since a report from the company stated the rail span, which re-opened within days of the fire, and vehicle span were two separate structures. CN did show that they were committed to finding a solution but it's been frustrating for her community and dangerous, having to use highway 61 to get in and out of Fort William First Nation.
"They're at immediate risk every time they have to travel around that bridge," she said.
Hobbs said he's happy that the company has shown commitment.
"We don't know how that's going to look yet but the bottom line is they're committed," he said.
While there were lawyers at the meeting, Hobbs said no legal discussions were needed and he's hopeful the matter can be resolved without them.
As for what caused the fire or if CN knows it, Chouc said he couldn't comment.