THUNDER BAY – The James Street Bridge remains closed. The closure has the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation in meetings with CN Rail. Apparently missing from those meetings are representatives of the federal and provincial governments.
Getting the bridge opened to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and them putting in place a permanent solution is a critical move that must happen. Any accident on either Highway 61 or on Chippewa Road means major inconvenience for residents, but even more importantly for Emergency Responders.
People needing help, either from fire or needing medical attention are seeing the response times bumped up by at least ten minutes each way.
When you consider the importance of speedy medical care, that twenty minute addition to a trip chews up a lot of time from what medical experts call the “Golden Hour”.
Mayor Hobbs who has expressed that the city may have to step up and put in some money to get the bridge fixed and get traffic moving across it again. That move would basically send a dangerous message to CN and would likely give CN the ticket it needs to walk away from the agreement that the railway has with the City and Fort William First Nation.
Getting the bridge open again will help business, and will provide a short term solution to the traffic issues.
The real solution is in getting a new bridge built, and that is why the federal and provincial governments need to be at the table.
Until that happens, it is likely there will only be more talk. Some on the First Nation are getting frustrated and have expressed that action is needed.