Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Goodbye McKenna Casey, Part I

As if we haven't suffered enough as railfans in Ottawa. Now we are faced with the loss of one of the best level crossings to shot at in the city. Let me rephrase that. We're losing one of the best crossings to shot at in the west end of the city. My blog has always been heavily tilted toward Ottawa's west end. My friends in the city's east end might think differently.

McKenna Casey Drive is a rural road that, until recently, connected Moodie Drive with Strandherd Drive. At one point, it was likely a very pastoral, sleepy rural route, but in recent years, it was clearly being used as a short cut into the sprawling suburban swath that we call Barrhaven.

No more. With the advent of a Strandherd overpass over Via Rail's Smiths Falls Subdivision, McKenna Casey's connection to Strandherd seems like it will be severed, judging by the signs and the blocked crossing halfway between Moodie and Strandherd. I discovered this when I was out for a bike ride a while back and wanted to cut across McKenna Casey to get to Moodie, so I could take a direct path back to my area. When I arrived at the crossing, it was barricaded, which meant I had to partake in a small portage through the ditches to continue my ride.

It made me sad to know this crossing will be eliminated, but I am hopeful that this vantage point will still be accessible for photography. As I began to kickstart this blog again, I thought about this crossing and it occurred to me I have a number of interesting pictures from here, not to mention memories. It was one of the first places I took my oldest daughter to watch trains, when she was very young.

I even caught CN's Sunday 589 running light, back when CN used to regularly retrieve cars on this line on the weekends. 

The shot below is one of many I took of Via Rail corridor trains heading west from Fallowfield Station when they begin to gear up for their run to Smiths Falls. The trains, at this time, really began to pick up speed. The speed limit posted on this stretch of track is 65 mph for LRC passenger equipment.

To get an idea of what's happening, here's a map that clearly shows a stretch of the road being erased from the map east of the crossing.

You will notice from the map that McKenna Casey also crosses beneath Highway 416. Given that this road will no longer be a through route, I'm hoping that it could provide railfans with a quiet spot to watch trains without having to worry about traffic. I have attempted to take shots beneath the highway a few times. This was my favourite shot from those attempts in 2016.

Here's a close runner-up from the same year. 

I suppose it depends on what happens to this area once the Strandherd overpass is finished. I will miss getting weird angle shots like this, below.

Possibly the new Strandherd overpass will allow to an aerial shot and the new dead-end McKenna Casey could mean a quieter spot to railfan along the Smiths Falls Sub, free of traffic concerns. I can only hope.

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