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Fort Frances asked to join coalition

By Randy Thoms Mar 15, 2023 | 10:01 PM

CN train crosses the Rainer Bridge into the Minnesota. Image: Randy Thoms

There is an effort underway to form a coalition to get CN Rail’s attention over its plans for a new rail bridge linking Fort Frances with Ranier.

There are concerns the new bridge will impact the navigation of Rainy River.

Craig MacKenzie with the Rainy Lake Property Owners Association says they are not happy with CN’s response.

“We have felt actually largely ignored. The concerns that we have are with respect to safety, navigation and also the flooding,” says MacKenzie.

The group is advocating that the area be returned to its original grade.

MacKenzie says piers added to reinforce the bridge have been restrictions, creating faster currents through the area, and with the new bridge, more abutments are planned.

He says CN is also seeking to use its original design in terms of bridge height, which now restricts the navigation.

CN has to raise the bridge when boaters want to pass, but MacKenzie says, at times, the calls to raise the bridge have gone unanswered, often for several hours.

He says CN is seeking to do all of the work under an original congressional approval received for the construction of the bridge in 1906.

“We take exception to that because we think the world’s changed quite a bit in 100 years. And also relying on that approval does nothing to really engage the stakeholders.”

The Association is hoping Fort Frances will be a part of its lobbying efforts.

MacKenzie says they also plan to speak with St. Louis County, area First Nations and others.

Fort Frances council wants to discuss the proposal further before making a decision.



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