Tbnewswatch Local News
Sunday July 5 2015
10:47 PM EDT
2014-07-11 at 14:01

Damage examined

tbnewswatch.com file photograph
By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY –- Damage that has kept the James Street Swing Bridge closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic extends well beyond last year's fire, says the city's mayor.

Mayor Keith Hobbs asserts the closure of the CN-owned bridge that links Thunder Bay to the Fort William First Nation is more connected to past maintenance history rather than the Oct. 29, 2013 fire.

“If you look at the engineering report and talk to our engineers, we’re of the opinion the fire didn’t cause the damage CN is claiming,” Hobbs said Friday.

“We think it’s deterioration over time. Past administrations and councils have let CN float and they didn’t really take good responsibility of the bridge so we think it is more wear and tear than fire damage.”

The bridge was re-opened to rail traffic in the days following the fire but vehicles have not been allowed to cross the span since.

CN, the city and Fort William First Nation have been meeting on a regular basis to determine a plan to have the bridge become operational for vehicles. CN and the First Nation exchanged proposals last week.

CN was expected to present a short-term solution on Monday but said they needed to review a Fort William First Nation claim the the company was technically trespassing on at least two road allowances that were exempted from the 1906 agreement.

That has left the city waiting to hear where how the process will play out.

“The latest move by the First Nation has stalled this and I wasn’t aware of that. I was blindsided by it and I wasn’t happy about it,” Hobbs said. “Fort William First Nation has the right to do what they’re going to do but the 1906 agreement is between the city and CN so it’s up to the city to resolve this.”

The mayor insists the city will not be forking over significant money for repairs, saying the costs are the responsibility of CN.
Hobbs added that  at this point repairing the existing structure is preferable to building a new bridge.

If the bridge is operational to rail traffic there is no need for a new structure, he said.

“They’re running trains down the middle of that bridge. If they’re running trains down the middle the middle of that bridge they can run vehicular and pedestrian traffic down that bridge,” he said.

The matter will be addressed by city council on July 21 where Hobbs says council will review their options.

Taking the matter to court remains the last resort, Hobbs said.

“I don’t think there are too many councillors who want to go down the legal road however, that being said, you never know what council is going to do,” he said.  “We’re going to keep pushing until that bridge is open. That bridge is going to be open one day.”


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Murphy says:
Leave the bridge alone. Nobody fought this hard when they closed the bridge off syndicate to mission marsh, now that is a huge detour for ppl on this end of town to get to work. Add and acceleration lane north bound off Chippewa, reduce the speed on 61 to Just past that intersection at the The Neebing and enforce it. Hold ppl accountable for their poor driving habits. Accidents are preventable!!
7/13/2014 8:01:34 PM
Mastermind says:
FWFN is not "poor". They have some very successful businesses and entrepreneurs. They are actually doing very well for themselves.
7/12/2014 8:57:32 PM
sawmillsteve says:
What if yellow......rich people wouldnt light the bridge on fire in the first place......
7/12/2014 6:51:57 PM
joey joe joe jr. shabadoo says:

you think just because people have money,
they don't do anything wrong??

wake up & smell reality dude!
7/13/2014 11:34:56 AM
Jack Frost says:
The great PRETENDER says:

“We think it’s deterioration over time. Past administrations and councils have let CN float and they didn’t really take good responsibility of the bridge so we think it is more wear and tear than fire damage.”

Well great pretentious one, what exactly did you do to take "good responsibility of the bridge" and to ensure the proper maintenance for all public safety in your three years as mayor ?!?!?!

Talk about shameless hypocrisy...

I know who I will NOT be voting for as mayor come October '14 municipal election...
7/12/2014 6:26:35 PM
hotchoc says:
There is this belief in our community that "pressure" is somehow the secret to any success. Critical public comments about CN seem to be the course of action for this Mayor and FWFN Chief believing that somehow CN cares about the viewpoints of the citizens of Thunder Bay. This foolishness only leads to distrust and anger on the CN side and is it any wonder that they have not moved, especially after the last absurd move by Ms. Morriseau alleging trespass by CN.

Mr. Hobbs in his never ending quest to blame everyone else has now indicted the past council and administration. As the Mayor for the most homicides per year over the past 25 years do we blame Mr. Hobbs for those statistics.

This man needs to learn how to play in the sandbox. He continues to demonstrate that my vote for him last time was a mistake. A mistake I will not repeat a second time.
7/12/2014 1:15:38 PM
unknowncronik says:
better to find out about this due to a fire than a car going in the water!

and that empty threat that the FWFN threw out wouldn't have changed a thing then....

boy I bet that chief is feeling dumb now
7/12/2014 11:37:21 AM
moi says:

yes...I wonder if the chief has removed her foot from her mouth yet?
7/14/2014 9:14:35 AM
what if yellow says:
If this was a bridge needed to reach rich people, instead of the poor people, do you think this would still be a problem a year later?
7/12/2014 2:22:36 AM
sawmillsteve says:
“We think it’s deterioration over time. Past administrations and councils have let CN float and they didn’t really take good responsibility of the bridge so we think it is more wear and tear than fire damage.”
Oh look its an election year....and Hobbs is throwing the dirt at past administrations.
Hobbs you make me sick!
7/12/2014 12:57:05 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
Well Mr. Hobbs. If you are so confident the bridge is safe how about YOU taking responsibility for this bridge and if something happens it will be up to YOU to pay for the damages or deaths to occur. You know, put up or shut up!
Great plan to put out the trespass issue. I'm sure the crack legal team at CN is going to look into that for a few months at least. That's it. Bite the hand that feeds you. LOL!
7/11/2014 10:04:15 PM
Kam River says:
The city should not be forking over any money. The bridge is not need There is a new bridge a few minutes west on Highway 61
"The mayor insists the city will not be forking over significant money for repairs, saying the costs are the responsibility of CN.
Hobbs added that at this point repairing the existing structure is preferable to building a new bridge.
The bridge is not needed.
7/11/2014 5:53:33 PM
TBAY Opinion says:
@ Kam. At least you would agree that the intersection at # 61 needs a new set of traffic lights. It is one of the busiest intersections on that highway now, and it is an accident waiting to happen.

The bridge question will not be resolved for some time. The traffic situation needs a solution right now.
7/12/2014 8:29:33 AM
dank says:
Keep up the pressure Keith, a lot of us use that bridge for more than gas and smokes.
7/11/2014 5:31:29 PM
noidiot says:
Open your eyes people. It has been CN stalling this re-opening. It is their responsibility to do proper maintenance and repair this bridge. PERIOD. They are not holding up their end of this agreement. Call your councillors. It is time to take this matter to court. The sooner the better, as it will still be a long process. Let the law decide, as we are wasting a lot of time listening to crap excuses.
7/11/2014 4:14:51 PM
Bob Roberts says:
First of all the City wasted more money having an engineering report for a bridge they don't own or maintain. CN owns the bridge and it was designed for rail traffic. The steel part is fine otherwise CN wouldn't be using it. Their insurance companies would not be held liable without an engineering report indicating structural integrity. This is sure not the case for the wooden part of the bridge which as everyone knows was pretty crappy to begin with. Why should CN spend money and repair the bridge for Car traffic, Route 61 is fine to hit FWFN. Plus why is Hobbs continuing to speak up about this matter, case closed , FWFN and the Feds plus a whack of Legal begals and CN can talk about it for a few more years. Hobbs is done in October anyway.
7/11/2014 4:05:47 PM
Generic says:
Hobbs should be more concerned about the crime rate in his city rather then getting a bridge fixed.
7/11/2014 3:37:26 PM
conker2012 says:
Her is an out of the box idea.

Negotiate with CN to have them build a bypass around the city so that they can tear up the tracks from the airport to intercity. In exchange we allow them to keep the bridge closed to traffic. The alternate would be to have CN pay for grade separation from traffic and rail at Pearl, FW rd, Harbour Expressway, Memorial, Victoria, arthur, Edward, Brown, James and Neebing rail crossings in exchange to leave the bridge closed.
7/11/2014 3:12:58 PM
FactCheck says:
Ummm. OK.
7/11/2014 3:17:26 PM
conker2012 says:
Why not, we could reduce james street back down to two lanes, maybe add some nice new bike lanes, save on maintenance costs on James street.

It is nice and quiet south of walsh on james since the bridge is closed.

Why not upload the cost of access to the FN to the Province. They pay all the maintenance costs on highway 61 and as the traffic has increased in that area, they will be obligated to upgrade the intersection and bridge to 4 lanes if traffic remains at such high volumes. Their is laws and regulation on highways that require them to do upgrades when traffic is consistently at such high volumes and there is no plan to reduce it..... once they upgrade the highway look at new bridge off the end of syndicate ave.

Take advantage of the situation. Why not try and lower our tax burden to maintain James street and upload to the province when we can. They download services onto us all the time.
7/11/2014 3:34:59 PM
JYDOG says:
There is no law that Ontario has to build 4 lane roads to accommodate heavy volume, in fact, most experts agree, traffic in higher volumes is best served by two lanes. Where do you get your funny ideas? Hm..
7/12/2014 10:16:49 AM
Eastender says:
I laughed so hard, I split my sides. My wife had to stiitch me up.
Great response. Ouch!
7/12/2014 9:38:44 AM
ibrando says:
Hobbs, your comments disgust me. "Past administrations and councils have let CN float and they didn’t really take good responsibility of the bridge so we think it is more wear and tear than fire damage." What did you do to "take good responsibility" prior to the fire October 29, 2013?
7/11/2014 3:00:48 PM
Arch Stanton says:
You're not kidding!!!

Despite the inherent strength of the bridge, the standard of upkeep of the roadway part was lamentable - literally dozens of cracked and split metal panels to take out tires, woodwork hanging off the so-called 'guard' rails and holes so big people could - and did! - fall through!

As for those 3 'traffic-calming' ramps - they must have been sponsored by the local shock-absorber dealers.

If it's a question of money - and it usually is - stick high-tech $1 toll buckets on it and GET IT FIXED!!!

7/11/2014 2:51:46 PM
glass half full says:
@ Mr Hobbs.

You also don't know what the new council will look like and who will be sitting on it.

At the end of the day the bridge is closed. CN is not repairing their bridge. No one can force a privately owned company to invest money.

With the bully comments being made by your self and the FWFN chief all you are doing is pushing them into a corner. Out of principal CN should cancel the contracts with the remaining clients on the other side of the bridge. Sell off the bridge for scrap and move on.

Mr Hobbs is wasting time on this issue and playing a political game along side of FWFN in my opinion.

Elections can not happen soon enough.

Hobbs and Ford the two worst mayors in Ontario.
7/11/2014 2:45:14 PM
Royalflush says:
C.N. In a corner? I hardly think so! They are a multibillion dollar corporation that is more likely to put others in a corner, such as small potatoes ThunderBay, or FWFN.
Either fix the bridge, or give it up and allow the city to charge a toll for its use.
Another option would be to build up the space between the tracks, thus making a drivable roadway, with traffic lights at each end, allowing one lane to go through at a time.
God, I should be charging for all the free advise I am handing Hobbs
7/11/2014 5:15:56 PM
unheard says:
you could try and charge them but they like to hire out of town consultants that know nothing of thunder bay and try to implement metro thinking on a small town
thats all you hear this place has bike lanes that place has bike lanes
they built a over priced ice rink over there
city admin is a jk

7/11/2014 8:02:25 PM
zeppelin says:
Well that's comforting...and not surprising.
7/11/2014 2:43:11 PM
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