In my last post, I shared a few photos and a few thoughts about changes to the Smiths Falls Subdivision in the Barrhaven area of Ottawa. The Strandherd Drive level crossing is being replaced with an overpass and the resulting construction of that overpass has severed McKenna Casey Drive, a rural road that connects Strandherd with Moodie Drive. For my purposes, it also eliminates a crossing where I have captured countless Via Rail corridor trains, as well as the odd appearance of CN's 589 local, which once used to ply these rails shortly after 10 a.m. on Sundays on its way to Kott Lumber and SynAgri.
I recently visited the area, proper camera in hand, to see what there is for railfans now that the road has been turned into a cul-de-sac just east of the 416. It turns out, this area might even become a better railfan spot than before (Note: Blog readers have pointed out that there is a proposal to connect McKenna Casey to another road).
The road is almost deserted, as it only serves a few local residents who live there. That means you can drive up to the end of the cul-de-sac near the old crossing and wander a bit, trying to set up a nice shot along the line. You can also go back to where Highway 416 goes over the road, to get some nifty shots of the train passing beneath the highway spans.
First off, here's a view of the Strandherd overpass, taken from near the old McKenna Casey Crossing, which is blocked off to cars. This shot was taken in the summer. The overpass is now completed over the right-of-way.
As you can see, the overpass is starting to look like it might be ready in a few months. The rail line itself has not seen any interruptions, as is the case sometimes when infrastructure projects necessitate a shoo-fly track. In this case, nothing has changed, other than the blockade of McKenna Casey Drive.
Since I was in the area, I decided to wait for a morning westbound, which passes by McKenna Casey just after noon. I decided to shoot from beneath the highway overpasses, as they provided much-needed shade.This shot was my favourite.
That giant pile of gravel behind the F40 unit is the berm for the overpass on Strandherd. You can make out the other F40 on the other end of the train. It would have been pretty easy to get a shot through the barricades, but I figured if I stayed beneath the highway spans, I could also get a shot of the train passing beneath the highway, which is always a challenge. I've shot here before a few times, so I thought I would try my hand at it again.
F40 6405 leads the way as the train approaches the Moodie Drive crossing. The skies were rather hazy so there was little chance of getting any type of good colour in the middle of the day. Besides, the forest fires in northwestern Ontario this summer produced large plumes of smoke that affected the skies over Ottawa for parts of July and August.
Here's another shot. Some might argue that the concrete pillars block much of the train, but the point of shooting beneath these spans is to place the train in a specific place with some context. That was my thought process, anyway. Some might disagree with this approach.
Once the train was through the concrete maze, I took a few going away shots of the trailing F40 at the rear as the train disappeared behind some brush.
So, despite losing a pretty cool level crossing that was photogenic for train photos, I think local rainfans will agree that they have also gained a key advantage with McKenna Casey Drive being closed off. The road is no longer busy and it now provides a quiet, safe place to get shots of trains without having to worry about traffic.
As railfans in Ottawa, you have to take the wins, no matter how small they are.