CN Rail Taking Thunder Bay to Court Following “Months of Intransigence”

The James Street Bridge remains closed to train, vehicle and pedestrian traffic
The James Street Bridge remains closed to vehicle traffic

The bridge is safe for trains but not cars or people according to CN
The bridge is safe for trains but not cars or people according to CN

THUNDER BAY – CN Rail, the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation have been locking horns since November 2013 when a fire closed the James Street Bridge in between Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation.

Mayor Hobbs has called CN a “Bad corporate citizen”.

The City is now in the process of taking legal action.

CN Rail in a statement says, “Following months of intransigence by the City of Thunder Bay and the Fort William First Nation (FWFN), and an absolute refusal to enter into any productive negotiation over the future of the James Street Bridge, CN has decided to take the matter to court.”

“CN is asking an Ontario Superior Court Judge to rule on what are CN’s exact obligations regarding the bridge, arising from the 1906 agreement. CN is taking this step because it has become obvious that neither the City nor FWFN has any intention of addressing the issue in good faith. Neither made any attempt to develop its own position on the matter, other than to lay the burden on CN. Moreover, they publicly responded to every initiative put forward by CN with inflexibility and even contempt”.

“CN cannot be expected to continue to beat its head against this wall,” CN Vice-President, Law,  Olivier Chouc declared. “If CN had known that there was no real intention to negotiate, we would have sought the assistance of the Courts earlier, saving months of uncertainty for the residents of Thunder Bay and the members of Fort William First Nation.”

CN Rail states, “In its last offer to the City, offered to share its rail infrastructure with vehicular traffic. CN would have contributed the lion’s share of the significant investment. The Federal Government offered to contribute the estimated balance. Neither the City nor FWFN was expected to contribute financially. CN even offered to pay for the maintenance of the shared corridor. The offer was flatly rejected.  This is only one example of the City and FWFN’s refusal to consider measured, logical options.”

There are about 15,000 vehicles that have crossed that bridge according to Mayor Hobbs, and having one-way shared traffic would cause massive traffic tie-ups.

CN Rail counters, “The new rail- and roadway corridor would have safely handled existing traffic, as well as emergency and heavy vehicles that were not allowed on the current structure.  The City claimed there would be safety issues with sharing road and rail. This is not true. Such structures exist, and use signalling and automated gates to safely control traffic flows.”

CN concludes, “Though the Court action about to be launched by CN will be lengthy and costly for all involved, CN sees no other way to resolve the issue and stop the false and unjust attacks on its reputation by the City of Thunder Bay and FWFN.”