GORE BAY—The failure of the Nipigon River Bridge did not affect Manitoulin Transport as adversely as it would have if the Trans Canada Highway had been closed completely, says a company official.
“We did have a problem for the first 12 hours the bridge was closed,” Gord Smith, of Manitoulin Transport, told the Recorder on Monday. “Until they opened one lane of traffic we had been concerned about moving anything across the Trans Canada.”
“But things have been fine since then (since the first 12 hours after the bridge was closed),” said Mr. Smith. “Things are not perfect but they are better than if the bridge had been closed completely.”
“The failure of the Nipigon River Bridge shows the Liberal government’s mismanagement of Northern Ontario’s roads and highways,” states a joint statement from NDP Northern Development Critic Michael Mantha (MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin) and NDP transportation critic Wayne Gates.
“The $106 million Nipigon River has been open for less than two months and it failed in its first encounter with a Northern Ontario winter,” the NDP release notes. “Thank goodness no one was seriously injured or died.”
“The bridge is the transport lifeline for Northern communities and for commerce across the province. The closure of the bridge separated families and workers throughout Northern Ontario. Now with only partial repair, the faulty bridge is seriously hampering movement of families, workers and commerce throughout Northern Ontario and the province,” said Mr. Gates. “Many communities in Northern Ontario depend on the bridge to transport product across the country. This will hurt industry and many small communities will be economically impacted with less motorists passing through.”
“Northerners deserve answers now from this government about when Nipigon River Bridge will be fully operational and safe for use,” said Mr. Mantha. “Right now, the Liberal government’s infrastructure plan for Northern Ontario seems to be ‘drive through the United States,” he said.
Algoma-Manitoulin MP Carol Hughes pointed out she understands the bridge failed because bolts holding the structure to the western abutment snapped. The bridge had only been opened a few months ago and was not even fully constructed yet. She also noted the engineering firm behind the project is from Spain and the Spanish firm may not have factored in the dramatic temperature swings we can have in the north.