Tbnewswatch Local News
Tuesday July 7 2015
8:06 PM EDT
2014-05-30 at 16:37

Short-term solution

CN vice-president of corporate services Olivier Chouc
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
CN vice-president of corporate services Olivier Chouc
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

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.



Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error



We've improved our comment system.
Robert Bob says:
You know what I've driven to the Mission many times to get gas on 61. I recently deceided to check my onboard computer for total distance, time, fuel consuption mpg and found out that I was actually saving time and money using this route vs the bridge. Not an inconvience what-so-ever and come to think about its seems much safer than the old route. I'm also betting the Mission businesses are not seeing that much decline in Gas purchases after all. Being on fixed income its best to shop around and drive around.
6/3/2014 1:41:14 PM
shortpeter says:
hundreds of small towns along the trans Canada highway have the same valid point about busy uncontrolled intersections. Why is this one more special?
6/3/2014 10:16:01 AM
Robert Bob says:
A short term solution to take a relook at the engineering recommendations. The Bridge is not safe for Vehicle traffic. Of course there is a Cost to make it safe. No temporary short term solution should even be considered. The Bridge was desgin for Rail traffic. The Highway 61 is a much safer raodway and can handle vehicle traffic. Maybe CN or City can hire the Engineer from Elliot Lake Mall. He does great work he will put his Stamp of Approval on re-opening the Bridge to Mayor Hobbs and FWFW delight.
6/2/2014 11:34:25 AM
anvil of crom says:
I think that the risk of going over that old bridge with its warped metal plates, bolts sticking out all over, and old wood was REAAAL safe...come on georgann you cant spin that ugly bridge into something its not ..and safe it is not!
6/2/2014 9:07:29 AM
ou812 says:
"They're at immediate risk every time they have to travel around that bridge," she said.

What risk is she talking about? Driving on the highway? It's too dangerous? Everyone else has to do it. Come on Morriseau!
6/1/2014 6:57:10 PM
Tannoy says:
Agreed! If its too dangerous to drive the highway then you have no place on the road in the first place!
6/2/2014 8:47:05 AM
spazz says:
I believe what she is refering to is a huge increase of traffic through what amounts to an uncontrolled intersection on a busy highway.

Seems valid to me.
6/2/2014 9:14:10 AM
shortpeter says:
"they are at risk every time they have to drive around that bridge" Their risk is no greater than anyone else having to travel on any highway. The greater danger is an arsonist. How about an update on the investigation into the bridge fire.Or do they know?
6/1/2014 11:44:51 AM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
So....what happened to this famous contract that supposedly guaranteed perpetual access...you dont hear anyone yapping about that anymore do you, huh...
6/1/2014 9:08:19 AM
The Beaver..... says:
It is so self serving for leaders on both side of the bridge to keep insisting that Highway 61 in to the First Nation is so dangerous when in fact it is pretty tame.
I invite them to come with me on a Friday afternoon to either Toronto, Chicago, or for that matter even Minneapolis to get a better understanding of what dangerous really is. So please stop inundating us with scare mongering about the danger of the Highway you are making yourself out to be just a little on the light side.
6/1/2014 7:18:02 AM
spazz says:
Having driven in all 3 cities I have to disagree. The ramps and merge lanes etc. in Minneapolis and Chicago are a lot safer than turning left across open highway traffic. Toronto would also be safer if everyone on the 400 series didn't drive like they were from Thunder Bay.
6/2/2014 9:10:59 AM
urban guy says:
If CN had a legal standing to not repair the bridge they would have dropped that card 6 months ago. They have been waiting, planning and had the bean counters figure out which is cheaper, repair the bridge to contract standards or tear the whole bridge down, which has huge environmental costs attached to it.
5/31/2014 10:01:36 PM
jonthunder says:
Our City and the Railway are both playing us for fools with their lack of information and legal clarity. This borders on joke material; while lives and commerce are at risk.
5/31/2014 7:37:51 PM
TownDogs says:
I have not really followed the details of this story, but I am wondering why it is CN's responsibility to rebuild the bridge? If they only need the rail component, why would they rebuild the road part? I'm just curious if this is some sort of contractual thing.
5/31/2014 3:56:39 PM
tiredofit says:
It's pretty simple, they own it. If they wish to continue to generate income (and I'm assuming its a fair chunk of change) from those it services on the FWFN and City lands, they need to step up.
5/31/2014 10:46:35 PM
Cletus Van Damme says:
It was good while it lasted.
5/31/2014 1:29:58 PM
moonpie says:
Lip service. Tell them what they want to hear so they go away for a while. Repeat as necessary.
5/31/2014 1:27:19 PM
YellowSnow13 says:
I am way more interested if the city Police or FN Police have ever found out who burned the bridge that caused this problem?
5/31/2014 12:10:21 PM
Curious says:
Who do you think most benefitted by this???
6/3/2014 8:02:56 AM
BlueJay12 says:
Ya the "Short Term Solution" is that CN Engineers now deem the bridge safe all of a sudden....until 8 months from now they re-asses it and deem it unsafe again because the city and the reserve haven't coughed up money yet lol!
5/31/2014 10:06:29 AM
King Farouk says:
good news!
5/30/2014 6:54:51 PM
Watchmaker says:
How so? CN committed to absolutely nothing other than to "respond to the urgency". Their response could be anything from building a new bridge to what I posted in the first comment.
5/31/2014 4:19:35 PM
Kam River says:
Wonder how much money Hobbs and promised of Thunder Bay Taxes payers money?
For The Hobbs Unity Bridge.
5/30/2014 6:54:13 PM
Watchmaker says:
"CN is committed to respond to that urgency," he said.

Their response could well be "Get Stuffed".
5/30/2014 5:46:44 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