Unity Bridge idea in preliminary stages
If it comes to be, the proposed Unity Bridge between Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation would be as much practical as it would be symbolic, the city’s mayor said Wednesday.
Mayor Keith Hobbs floated the idea of the Unity Bridge — which, he said, would replace the aging CN rail bridge that spans the Kaministiquia River at the south end of James Street — in his 2012 State of the City address, delivered at Monday’s council meeting.
“It’s very, very preliminary,” Hobbs said during an interview. “It’s something that we want to bring to the government as an infrastructure project.
“We’re talking about our mining readiness and our partnership with Fort William First Nation, and all things economic development,” he said.
“They have a lot of land that can be utilized for business, and you look at the sawmill over there already that employs Thunder Bay people.
“There is commerce going back and forth.”
Hobbs said the city and Fort William have had preliminary conversations about replacing the bridge, which is owned and maintained by CN.
“We have talked to CN Rail,” he said. “They haven’t really been very committal, but we’re looking at it as a serious item for Fort William First Nation and Thunder Bay.
“There’s a lot of traffic back and forth between the two communities, and people are questioning the safety of the bridge. (CN) has told us it’s in good shape; people don’t feel comfortable driving over it.”
Hobbs said no cost estimates have been prepared, nor have any other levels of government been formally approached.
(Note: This story originally appeared in the Friday, Dec. 21 print edition of The Chronicle-Journal)