CN Says Opening James Street Bridge is Complicated

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Dangers from rail car derailments have women set to block the line near Kenora
Dangers from rail car derailments have women set to block the line near Kenora
Chain Link Fence on the sides of the CN Rail James Street Bridge allow pedestrian traffic.
Chain Link Fence on the sides of the CN Rail James Street Bridge allow pedestrian traffic.

THUNDER BAY – UPDATED – The move toward getting the James Street Bridge open for vehicle traffic continues. A spokesperson for CN says, “CN shared an update with both the city of Thunder Bay and the Fort William First Nation. Safety is our top priority at CN, and we do not believe we can safely re-open the bridge with simple maintenance. CN has started the process to make the bridge safe for modern vehicle traffic, which begins with selecting engineering and construction firms to complete the substantial work required.”

While the City is looking at the situation apparently differently than CN, the rail company states, “CN has been fully engaged with the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nations since 2013 and has offered solutions to connect the City of Thunder Bay to the Fort William First Nation reserve using the railway bridge. We continue to offer a solution that would improve the deck of the railway bridge to safely accommodate vehicular traffic, including emergency vehicles and heavier vehicles, such as school buses – something the road bridges did not accommodate. Given the limited volume of rail traffic on the bridge, this is a very effective solution that could be implemented quickly and at no cost to the City of Thunder Bay and Fort Williams First Nation.”

CN says that in terms of the appeal, that the company is looking for guidance. “As for the matter of the appeal, the company is seeking guidance from the Courts on the scope of its obligations under the 1906 Agreement. Absent any court action, CN is moving forward with the process to make the bridge safe for modern vehicle traffic”

“CN remains open and available to discuss this and other options with all stakeholders.”

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs tells NetNewsLedger, “I would like to learn from CN when they figure was the last time they spoke to the Mayor or Council or our Administration about repairs to the bridge. They have been in talks with FWFN about the bridge. May I remind CN that the 1906 agreement is between the City and CN not CN and FWFN”.

“CN needs to talk to the City about opening the bridge. Furthermore, the fact that CN hasn’t had their engineers working up a plan to open the bridge or contracted anyone to do the work in the days after the fire amplifies the fact that CN had no intention of ever opening the bridge. Now that the Ontario Court of Appeal has spoken loud and clear, CN needs to approach the City, not FWFN, with a plan and path forward. The City of course will share any plan with FWFN as good neighbours do.”




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