Tbnewswatch Local News
Monday July 6 2015
3:06 AM EDT
2014-07-02 at 14:14

Bridge saga goes on

Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY - An option to get the James Street swing bridge open will be on the table Thursday, but what it will look like and who will pay for it has yet to be seen.

It's now been more than 245 days since a fire closed the bridge to vehicle traffic last October.

Company officials met with the city and Fort William First Nation at Thunder Bay city hall last month with a promise to have short-term solutions to get the bridge re-opened. Mayor Keith Hobbs had a conference call with the company Wednesday morning and engineers on both sides and Fort William First Nation will meet face-to-face Thursday.

"We're hoping for progress. We're getting signs there's going to be an offer made to move this forward," Hobbs said. "This has gone on long enough."

Options were expected earlier but CN told Hobbs that engineers were taking their time to make sure the solution is safe for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Hobbs said because CN owns the bridge, the company is in the driver's seat.

"Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation kind of have our backs to the wall because it's not our bridge," he said.

Hobbs said cost will be a big issue when they sit down at city hall Thursday. It's not clear whether CN will pick up the tab or costs will be shared. Still, he remains confident that a short-term solution will be reached after the meeting.



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Stephen says:
"FWFN builds a new bridge and puts a Toll on it"
Or they could put a TROLL under it.
"Does anyone actually think that CN needs this bridge?"
Well, yes, there is a grain elevator and isn't there a paper mill they still service? Believe me, as soon as a railway doesn't need infrastructure, they rip it up right away.
7/3/2014 6:31:07 PM
Waldo Lydecker says:
Doesnt the elevator need CN more than CN needs those elevators?

The elevator gets its product by rail and Im guessing the sawmill ships its product by rail. That product could go by truck which it most likely does to get to its end users anyway.

So its CN thats holding all the cards and nobody else.
7/4/2014 1:43:45 PM
NorthernGuy says:
Not sure why CN needs to rebuild this bridge. They weren't the ones that burnt it down.

Unless there is a legal requirement that they do so?
7/3/2014 4:02:37 PM
jaxoon says:
Does anyone actually think that CN needs this bridge?
7/3/2014 11:27:44 AM
humnchuck says:
As long as there are paying customers at the two grain elevators and Resolute's sawmill, I'd think that CN would be most interested in continuing to use the bridge. It's obviously financially viable to keep using it, or they'd be shutting it down.
7/3/2014 3:58:25 PM
sweetcharmaine83 says:
My suggestion - FWFN builds a new bridge and puts a Toll on it - sure in the first few years you will only be recovering costs, but then after that...think of the profits?
7/3/2014 9:52:13 AM
commonsense says:
@no patience-
You can walk into the City archives building on Vickers St. Beside North American Lumber and read the agreement .
TBNewswatch has a copy; perhaps they could use some of that information to update this story, instead of just quoting the Mayor who's "Hoping for progress ".
Is that the best you can do?
7/2/2014 10:52:45 PM
smartguy83 says:
They already posted it. Not sure what posting it again would do?
7/3/2014 12:54:52 PM
windigo says:
The way I heard it, the cities,probably Fort William signed a deal with a prior railroad. This deal included a yearly payment to the railroad for use of the bridge. When CN bought the line, and bridge, the payments stopped. Seems to me the city broke the agreement. Why should CN pay for the bridge. CN is not a charity, they are responsible to the shareholders.
7/2/2014 10:25:35 PM
smartguy83 says:
Heard from?
7/3/2014 12:55:08 PM
djs says:
If CN bought the bridge from another company and therefore does not have to live up to the agreement reached in the past, then maybe the city needs to think outside the box in terms of the CN use of the tracks that travel through the city. Maybe they need to start paying a fee to bring their trains through the city? Maybe they can't travel into residential areas between specific hours of the day or night? Maybe they need to create overpasses to prevent the trains from blocking vehicular traffic? I don't know....there has to be some tit for tat here...
7/2/2014 7:51:41 PM
Kam River says:
I know their is an election coming and Hobbs is looking for votes with his "Friendship Bridge"
But it will cost million and is not needed. There is a new bridge on highway 61 for the people living on Mountain Road.
At the way the city is going into debt next year at this time they are going to be in big trouble.
7/2/2014 7:04:04 PM
eventscentre says:
If I was part of the CN team this bridge would have been closes a decade ago. I don't use it, never will, so not one penny of my tax dollars should go towards it. Isn't that what opponents of the Events Centre always say?
7/2/2014 6:52:27 PM
ranma says:
Getting really sick and TIRED of the pandering of this situation. As I stated before and tbnewswatch refused to post it, the city and FWFN should sue CN for breach of contract. Use said monies to build a new bridge.

Or does that make too much common sense?
7/2/2014 3:51:43 PM
rob20 says:
And you got your law degree from where?
7/2/2014 5:47:37 PM
Watchmaker says:
unfortunately, suing will not get a replacement bridge in place any time soon. In all likelihood, CN is playing a strategy here - they do not want to repair the bridge and want out of the contract. It could be that they thing that if they dither long enough, the City and FN will run out of patience and resolve the issue between the two of them.
7/2/2014 6:15:35 PM
nopatience4stupidity says:
If they are going to negotiate costs to fix the bridge, then definitely on the table should be the City removing CN's access to it. Again, does anybody have a copy of the agreement? All parties should live up to the conditions of the agreement.
7/2/2014 3:38:08 PM
YellowSnow13 says:
And what kind of solution do you expect. The city buys the bridge? How about FN buys the bridge. Maybe CN should charge a $1.00 or $2.00 toll to help pay for the repairs. Maybe CN will ask if they caught the people responsible for the fire? Tough questions don't you think? And what are you really going to do Mr. Hobbs? More talk that is going on deaf ears?
7/2/2014 2:46:18 PM
humnchuck says:
However dated it may be, there is a legal contract in place. I'd expect that the city really doesn't want to take it to court due to the costs and time, so it may be a mediation-style process at this time.

Please feel free to share your evidence that arson was committed. Police, CN, FWFN, nor the city have claimed as much so far.

7/2/2014 4:12:53 PM
Neebing1414 says:
The problem with the "contract" is that is was not CN who made the contract.. they simple bought out the company who made the contract.. so how is it fair for them to be forced to live up to something they never created nor signed? And they haven't taken them to court over the issue because they know that they will lose and end up costing the tax payers more money

If you want the bridge open, the city and FN should be paying the bills or build a new bridge.. that is in the cities power to do so but they are not
7/2/2014 5:19:00 PM
Watchmaker says:
Contracts survive these types of transactions. Additionally, does the phrase Caveat Emptor mean anything to you? I suggest you look it up.
7/2/2014 6:10:55 PM
humnchuck says:
Unless otherwise stated, when acquiring the lands and facilities of the Grand Trunk in 1920-1923, the crown and Canadian National inherited those agreements. If they felt that the agreement was untenable, they've had 90 years to dispute or renegotiate it. Obviously the existing agreement worked for CN, or they'd have gotten out from under it a long time ago. Bridge maintenance issues and ease of access haven't exactly only been recent developments.

I believe Leith Dunick requested that the Mayor's Office release the actual agreement to the public last month. Not sure that was ever produced. Leith...?

7/2/2014 8:44:54 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Our TV colleagues did a story with the document, which was posted to our site. It`s stored at the city archives.
7/2/2014 11:58:50 PM
humnchuck says:
Thanks Leith. I missed the story but will look it up.
7/3/2014 2:01:38 PM
Tiredofit says:
I'm sure CN was well aware that the contract was in place and they took on the responsibility and liability of it when the did so. They are legally obligated, regardless of who made the deal, if they wanted out of it, they should have negotiated it at the time. I'm sure they own hundreds if not thousands of bridges from the east coast to the west, this is simply one of many.

If they opt to negotiate a split cost with the city and or FWFN pay a portion, thats their prerogative as well. We all benefit from it, be it to get cheaper gas/smokes, get to work or to simply enjoy Chippewa Park. There's a lot of Camps and businesses on City own property on the other side, it's not all FWFN land. The city does generate tax revenue from it (Sandy Beach Camps, Chippewa Park generates monies etc..).

This mornings accident is a prime reason why we still need 2 points of access. If this was anywhere within the city a lot more people would be up in arms over it, especially if it reduced access.
7/2/2014 9:43:16 PM
ring of fire dude says:
I predict Hobbs will miraculously have the bridge open or at least a deal in place a couple of weeks before the municipal election . He just won't tell us how many millions it will cost taxpayers until after the municipal election .
7/2/2014 4:46:31 PM
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