Province, state asked by council to buy bridge

Town council passed a resolution Monday night officially requesting the state, province, and possibly the government of Canada pursue buying the international bridge here and doing away with the tolls.
Mayor Onichuk said Monday evening the motion was meant to clarify what Fort Frances, the City of International Falls, and, consequently, the Canadian American Border Communities Organization (CABCO) want to see the senior levels of government do with the bridge.
“There was some confusion it seems with some of the bureaucrats, and there was a statement made by the minister [of Transportation] that the town hadn’t asked for anything,” the mayor said.
“Well, we clearly had a resolution going back to November saying that we wanted it [the bridge] to be in public hands and asking for the province’s help, and the state’s help, with that,” he noted.
“To clarify it, we had a discussion and said, ‘Let’s make it perfectly clear. We want you to buy the bridge, take the tolls off, and let’s get on with life,’” the mayor added. “That’s the whole intention of [this resolution].
“So, we’ll be forwarding that on to the ministers in the provincial and federal government, and a copy to our local MP and MPP so that they can help us carry the ball on this.”
International Falls city council also has passed a motion with this wording.
Back in November, CABCO first, and then the respective councils of International Falls and Fort Frances, passed resolutions to petition the provincial and federal governments to investigate doing a feasibility study regarding the purchase of the bridge here, with the aim to put it in public hands.
While the financial data on the bridge was not available (and still isn’t until the bridge’s current owners retain a broker), the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Ontario Ministry of Transportation collaborated on a structural analysis of the bridge.
That analysis—revealed Jan. 31 at a public meeting in the Falls—showed the railroad one built back in 1908 only has 15-20 years left in it before it needs to be replaced at a cost of $8 million.
As far as what the future holds now, Mayor Onichuk, speaking at a Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce luncheon yesterday, said CABCO is waiting for the bridge’s owners to retain a broker and release the financial information on the structure.
After that, both the respective communities and the various senior governments would have a clear picture as to the actual value of the structure for sale.