fORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – THUNDER BAY – It has been a long time coming, and finally after an October 2013 fire closed the James Street Bridge, the important infrastructure has traffic crossing the Kam River again. Drivers have been going across the bridge tonight.
However, the official re-opening of the bridge is on Saturday. Fort William First Nation will celebrate the official opening with a public event starting at 09:00 am on Saturday morning. The repair to the James Street Bridge has been a long time coming and has impacted businesses on both sides of the Kam River.
The repaired bridge, however, will not provide for passage of Fire Trucks which will continue to have to travel the long route.
The City of Thunder Bay in a media release issued on Friday stated, “CN has completed repairs to the James Street Swing Bridge and it is scheduled to open to traffic this Saturday. This follows the closure of the bridge in October 2013 due to a fire and a lengthy legal battle with CN who was ultimately ordered by the courts to uphold its contractual obligation to repair and reopen the bridge to all vehicles under the 1906 Agreement.
The bridge repairs required widening of the City’s roadway approaches. This was completed within CN’s construction schedule-timeline so that the bridge could now reopen to traffic.
The court action started with former Mayor Keith Hobbs and the council under his leadership. The court case was at times a struggle and had many questioning the decision by the City of Thunder Bay to sue. “Thunder Bay City Council has been resolute on this matter, their resolve has been unwavering from the beginning,” said City Manager Norm Gale. “The City’s legal team and engineers provided expert advice to City Council throughout this process.”
The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the City in June of 2018 and ordered CN to reopen its bridge and subsequently, the Supreme Court of Canada denied CN’s leave for appeal.