The Arlington Bridge will have to be replaced, according to a city report, but that obvious fact should not serve as another excuse for a pointless conversation about relocating the CP rail yards.
Coun. Dan Vandal seems to think the bridge's condition is a good starting point for yet another discussion about the value of moving the rail yards, which some social theorists complain are a physical and moral barrier separating the poorer northern parts of the city from their wealthier cousins in the southern suburbs.
The historic, 102-year-old bridge will have to be replaced in less than 10 years, either in that spot or in another location, whether the rail yards are moved or not.
For one thing, a possible decision on the future of the yards will not be made before the old bridge will need to be replaced. But even if the yards were moved, there would still be a need for a bridge or for improvements and expansions of alternative routes.
The city struggled with the same issues in the 1970s when engineers debated the future of the bridge and the CP yards, a subject that never seems to go out of fashion.
But even then it was acknowledged a bridge would still be necessary, even if the rail lines were moved.
The bottom line is that CP Rail needs its yards and it has repeatedly made clear they are not for sale and it has no intention of moving. The opportunity to redefine the area around the sprawling rail yards may arrive sometime in the future, but for now the city will be better off focusing on what kind of bridge or alternative crossing will best serve people on both sides of the tracks.