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Council committee reviews CN bridge project

By Randy Thoms Apr 6, 2023 | 3:55 PM

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

The town of Fort Frances may join a coalition of U.S. communities concerned with CN’s plans to replace the Ranier bridge.

The Operations and Facilities Executive Committee is expected to make that recommendation to council next week after reviewing a presentation made by the Rainy Lake Property Owners Association last month.

They outlined several issues with the planned project, including it impacting water flow from Rainy Lake into the Rainy River.

Mayor Andrew Hallikas is okay with joining, but for lobbying purposes only.

“I don’t think we should get involved in litigation. I don’t think we should be spending any money. But I certainly wouldn’t have just problem lending our name to the coalition as an interested body, as a stakeholder in what CN does, primarily for the purpose of making sure, ensuring that we do get consultation and that we do get information in a timely manner,” says Hallikas.

The town still wants to check that it is okay under the Municipal Act to join a coalition.

The town and the city of International Falls have in the past worked on joint lobbying efforts, including in 2005 when they considered buying the International Bridge.

Administration recommends keeping a close eye on CN’s plans.

According to material from CN that details the work, the railway is looking to replace the movable span of that bridge and the piers with a new structure wide enough for two rail lines.

However, CN states it is not looking at this time to twin the current line.

Information suggests there is no work planned on the Canadian side.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer Travis Rob says there is still an impact if the project affects the water flow.

“I can’t get necessarily supportive of increasing the channel flow through there because that has a negative impact on the town site in high water events. But by the same token, I can’t necessarily support restricting the flow either because then that has detrimental impacts on the properties on the lake. I would suggest that really what we should be focused on is ensuring that CN holds the line on the flow through that channel,” says Rob.

Rob says CN is promising to do some modelling that it will consider in the design of the piers.



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