James Street swing bridge's future still uncertain

The future of the James Street swing bridge is still uncertain, according to Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs. He is unhappy with a CN Rail report that recommends keeping the bridge closed to vehicular traffic.
The James Street bridge in Thunder Bay, a passageway for rail, automotive and pedestrian traffic across the Kaministiquia River, has been closed to vehicle traffic since October 2013. (www.panoramio.com)

The future of the James Street swing bridge that was closed last fall is still uncertain, according to Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs.

CN Rail, which owns the bridge, has presented an engineering report that recommends keeping the bridge closed to vehicles, but Hobbs said the report was “not very in-depth” despite taking six months to complete.

The bridge has been closed to road traffic since a fire damaged it in late October but has remained open to trains and pedestrians.  

The mayor said the city’s engineering department has been studying the report in order to provide a professional opinion on the issue.

“I am not very happy about the conclusion,” said Hobbs. “Our engineers have been poring over it… I’m really hoping the bridge is reopened. That’s what this exercise has been all about.”

Hobbs added that he believes that CN is legally required to keep the bridge open.

"The 1906 agreement between the city of Fort William and the Grand Trunk (now CN) is pretty solid in what it says about that bridge and who has to maintain it, and it isn't the city of Thunder Bay that has to maintain it."

According to a presentation in February, local business has been down an average of 40 per cent since the fire and closure. 

A meeting with the railway company is set for Friday. 

CN did not respond to CBC News' request for comment on Tuesday 

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