Premier and Minister owe Ontarians explanation on Nipigon Bridge failureJanuary 11, 2016
Kitchener – Ontario PC Transportation Critic Michael Harris is calling on the Premier and Minister of Transportation for an explanation and answers going forward following the failure of the vital Nipigon River Bridge only 42 days after opening new westbound lanes of the $106-million bridge rebuild.
“Given the significance of this bridge as a vital economic connection between Ontario and the West it’s incumbent on the Minister to report on exactly what happened here and how those people who depend on the bridge for their economic livelihoods are supposed to move forward,” Harris asserted. “Yesterday’s bridge failure leaves so many unanswered questions as to how a 100+ million dollar project so many depend on could result in the mess we see today – a now-broken bridge compromising motorist safety, and essential economic activity.”
The failure of the crucial northern Ontario bridge that connects Eastern and Western Canada, follows a $106 million rebuild that began in 2013, and comes just 42 days after westbound lanes were opened to traffic in late November. The bridge is now open to one lane of traffic less than 24 hours after a piece of the bridge decking lifted more than 60 centimetres.
“While we understand that a single lane has been opened, this is a route that sees between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles per day – many that can’t simply divert through the United States to get from East to West,” said Harris. “Where is that traffic and trade to go in the meantime, and where was the backup plan to prevent the potential of a failure that effectively splits Canada in two?”
Harris noted that he and the PC Caucus are among many who will be demanding answers from the Minister.
“Look, this is a critical MTO project that the Minister must be accountable for….for economic transport between west and east, for the transport of needed goods to our more northern communities, and ultimately for motorist safety,” Harris pointed out. “Whatever the explanation, this is the type of event that has lasting impacts and given the questions surrounding yesterday’s failure, motorists will understandably have concerns about this Ministers’ ability to ensure their safety – whether it’s the Nipigon bridge or the thousands of kilometers of road networking he has been mandated to oversee.”
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