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One of the most notorious traffic snarls in Kingston's west end was Gardiners Road. Crossing the double-track CN mainline at Mi. 178.0 Kingston Sub, the road also crossed the top of the Cataraqui Spur. The latter was rarely a hold-up, as the short trains had room to wait for the south track, west of the road crossing. But the main level crossing was rough, and close to Bath Road thereby causing spillover of traffic onto that busy east-west arterial at times. Vintage Kingston Facebook before-and-after (top photo) shows a 1950's view of the then-gravel road with the tracks in foreground and Kingston Drive-In on Bath Road in the background, compared to a current view of the underpass.
Due to the lack of approach space for an overpass, an underpass was chosen for the north-south Gardiners Road. A 1960's topographic map image (above) shows the pre-underpass arrangement of the Kingston Sub (double hashmarks), and Cataraqui Spur (single hashmark and team track). The underpass would be just above the  benchmark, the Cataraqui Spur removed between the mainline switch and a point at the bottom of the green line [X] and a new timetable-west access for the Cataraqui Spur [green line] laid to link the spur to the mainline. Today, the electric lock switch for the Cataraqui Spur runs off the south main track at Mi. 178.0, behind Paterson Concrete Products.
A 1965 aerial photo from the Queen's University Archives shows the area to advantage, from bottom: Kingston Drive-In, gas station at Bath and Gardiners Roads, barn, Cataraqui Spur team track with two boxcars, CN Kingston Sub and transformer station, and a few, scattered developments among the pastureland on the west side of Gardiners Road: The photo below, published in the October 14, 1983 Kingston Whig-Standard, shows the foreshortened distance between Bath Road and the crossing, taken while work was underway to relocate water mains. The planned traffic delay of October 24-28 was itself delayed to November 7-11 while CN waited for a "new crossing signal for its detour around the $6.2-million underpass site". This eastbound VIA train passes the site of the preliminary construction, showing the electronic warning devices on the mainline but only crossbucks on the Cataraqui Spur crossing: Gary Evans worked for Canada Building Materials (CBM), continuously pouring cement at the site during construction in 1984, and kindly shared two photos. Looking from south of the three tracks (below), cement is pumped up and onto the deck. In the background, the Gardiners Road transformer station, later enlarged to handle the power generated by Wolfe Island wind turbines, still stands. Otherwise, retail development on the east side of had not yet taken hold, and only the Northern Telecom plant was there. West of here, residential growth was booming, hence the increased impatience, traffic, and horn-honking (cars and trains) until the underpass project was completed. Looking east from atop the deck (below), Paterson Concrete and Northern Central Gas's office building occupy the east side, south of the CN. (Though often suggested, I haven't seen evidence that Paterson was rail-served, despite its trackside presence.) The northernmost track of three served the Northern Telecom telephone-wire plant via the eastern end of the Industrial Spur so the deck was necessarily wide, the underpass deep, and even today, it sometimes floods during heavy rains. The Industrial Spur was removed when the plant closed, now part of a massive residential/commercial/high school redevelopment.
Notice the track in the foreground. Jointed rail, apparently a shoo-fly for use during this phase of the project, and the use of a plethora of rebar! A typical humid, Kingston morning as haze is in the air and the 'Gatorade' water jug is kept handy. Thanks, Gary, for kindly sharing these neat photos! The fourth, south-west, quadrant of the underpass nas since filled in with commercial activity - a Midas garage and McDonald's. If another business locates here, the wide-open sightlines of this once pastoral country road railway crossing will be even more difficult to appreciate!
Running extra... I just finished reading Nomadland. (You know, the movie starring Fargo's Frances 'Don'tcha Know' McDormand.) Unsettling. Uneasy. Undeniable that I'm staying in four walls. Five-gallen bucket toilets and broken down Chevy Astros DO NOT equate to sleeping beside mountain lakes and living the dream that seemed more like an endless nightmare. Now I'm going to walk to my kitchen and just stand there.
Pandemic favourite CBS Sunday Morning just aired their 'At Home' episode. Zillow says listing to offer median time in the U.S. is seven days. Working from home means The Great Re-Shuffling - folks can once again live in small- to medium-size cities with good quality of life. Or as I call it, Kingston. Where we walk around the block and see houses sold in...seven days or less.
Weird Whittier, Alaska was featured on the 'At Home' episode. Three hundred people live in a
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA8FzVZj4T4&t=1ss called Begich Towers, and it's a real community. Like the Grand Budapest Hotel. You get to Whittier via a 2-mile train/road tunnel. But the view! Trains, and ships and mountains!
Shhh! VIA launched their Siemens locomotive and the rail enthusiast world is abuzz!
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