Railway was paid well
Re Bridge Agreement Shared — CJ, July 15:
I am glad that the city has publicly released the original James Street bridge contract. I have something to add.
Back in 1905, research suggests, the City of Fort William paid handsomely for the so-called privilege of welcoming the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (now called CN Rail).
It seems we paid $200,000 in cash and a $50,000 subsidy to build a combination rail and road bridge to gain access to the land on the south side of the Kam River. The railway was also given tax exemptions, land grants and street closings to accomplish all this.
At the time we were told by politicians the building of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway would turn Fort William into the “Chicago of the North.” That never happened. Another broken promise.
The citizens gave a huge sum of money in exchange for a formal contract that the railway now wants to renege on. Let’s push back and ensure they live up to their part of the bargain.
If the shoe was on the other foot, I am convinced railway would be aggressive in forcing us to resolve this long outstanding issue.
The bridge to the Fort William reserve is, what, over 100 years old and is probably on its last legs as a viable option for road and rail traffic. Even if it had not been set on fire any upgrade to the bridge would shut it down for a significant period of time. I don’t know how structurally sound the piers supporting the bridge are since no one is giving any information on the stability of the structure.
If you look at other bridges in the area I can count in many that have been rebuilt several times in my lifetime, whereas railway bridges go for long periods without major rebuilding. Railway bridges don’t use salt or calcium to remove snow or ice — unless there is automobile traffic also on it.
I don’t doubt that there is some major deterioration on the bridge so the thing that is most important to ask is not when the bridge is to be reopened to vehicle traffic, it is when is there going to be a replacement bridge built.
So rather then spend dollars to do an expensive repair job it is time to build a new bridge, one that will service the community better and more efficiently. Rather than looking for aces in the hole all three parties should be lobbying for a new structure to serve everybody’s needs.