Century Old Bridge Open to Trains and Pedestrians
THUNDER BAY – The CN Rail James Street Bridge remains closed to cars and trucks. CN Rail and the City of Thunder Bay remain at odds with court action on the horizon.
The historic bridge has been closed since October 2013 when a fire damaged the bridge.
“CN Rail have never allowed our inspectors, engineers and experts, on the bridge or under it so that we can carry out a thorough inspection and see for ourselves if the span is safe for vehicular traffic,” stated Mayor Keith Hobbs.
CN Rail re-opened the bridge fairly quickly after the fire, so that trains could continue to cross the Kam River. However the bridge remains closed to vehicle traffic.
Recently, CN Rail erected chainlink fence along the sides of the bridge that now allow pedestrian traffic.
There have been reports that the investigation into what caused the fire are coming forward soon. That report will not however solve the real issue which is that the bridge remains closed to vehicle traffic.
In negotiations with the City of Thunder Bay, and Fort William First Nation, CN Rail offered to set up a means for the bridge to re-open to vehicle traffic on the centre rail part of the bridge with one way traffic. That solution would have the rail company released from the original agreement signed with the City of Fort William that mandate that the railway company would maintain the bridge in perpetuity.
What has not been discussed is replacement of the 100 year old bridge.
The James Street Bridge is an older structure, the planning to replace the bridge that so many people crossed every day, connecting Westfort, Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation should likely be on the table.