sneak peek >> what’s to come

May 26th, 2017

sneak peek >> what’s to come

Have you ever walked past those construction sites surrounded by wood walls, and wanted a peek inside to see what’s being built? Curiosity is good – it helps us to move forward and to try new things. In York Region right now, we have a chance to sneak a peek at what’s to come.

In some cases, it’s right out there in the middle of the road. Communities with rapidway construction underway can see how their street will look once it’s done, by looking at Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill or Davis Drive in Newmarket. It’s more than bus lanes – it’s new utilities and infrastructure like bridges, tree-lined sidewalks and where possible, bike lanes.

In Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], we can see the transit hub on the way in the next year that will include a super-sized vivastation in the centre of Highway 7, linking to a YRT bus terminal via an underground pathway and above ground plaza, and connecting directly to the new subway platform below via escalator and elevator.

We can even get a peek at the new subway stations that are part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension project. TTC is hosting a Doors Open Toronto event this Saturday only, at the new Downsview Park Station and York University Station, set to open for service at the end of 2017. Information about the event is available on the project website, and if you can’t go, be sure to take a look at the photos posted by project staff on their Flickr site. And check out this TTC video of the future subway ride from Downsview Park to VMC, recorded last year to celebrate the final tracks being laid.

So if you’re curious about the subway, be sure to visit Downsview or York University Stations this Saturday. And if you’re curious about transit in York Region, feel free to ask us a question or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

what exactly is a ‘partial rapidway’ ?

May 17th, 2017

Where there are dedicated rapidways in York Region, there are also transition areas to get buses in and out of mixed traffic – and something called “partial rapidways”. Here are some simple explanations of what will be happening with transit in these areas.

full dedicated rapidway

The typical rapidways are dedicated lanes in the centre of the road for buses serving specific Viva routes. Vivastations are located roughly every kilometre or so, with customers being able to access the stations via signals at intersection crosswalks. Rapidways will allow Viva vehicles to zip past regular traffic.

transition lanes

Transition lanes take the buses into and out of the centre-lane rapidway. A good example of this is on Davis Drive west of Yonge Street.

partial rapidway

For the purposes of the vivaNext projects, partial rapidway typically means dedicated bus lanes in one direction of a roadway only. For example, in the Bathurst & Centre area, there will be dedicated rapidway for the most part on Bathurst and Centre Streets, and partial rapidway in three locations:

  • On Centre Street between Highway 7 and Dufferin Street, there will be regular centre-lane rapidway going westbound, and partial rapidway eastbound (full rapidway starts part-way).
  • The rapidway on Bathurst Street over Highway 407 and Highway 7 will be one direction southbound. The northbound rapidway will end just north of Flamingo Road.
  • The rapidway on Highway 7 between Bathurst Street and Yonge Street will be one direction eastbound. The westbound Viva route will run in mixed traffic.

transit in mixed traffic

While a partial rapidway is still in the centre lane, when Viva bus routes run in regular mixed traffic, there are no designated lanes, meaning that buses will travel in lanes that are also used by other vehicles. This usually occurs along roadway areas that are more highway-like without a lot of residential or commercial development, and therefore not a lot of customers.

For example, on Highway 7 roughly between Bayview Avenue and Yonge Street, Viva buses exit the rapidway and rejoin regular mixed traffic. Also, in the short section along Highway 7 between the GO Barrie bridge underpass and Centre St., there is no road widening or improvements as the underpass is not being widened. Therefore, in this stretch, transit will be in mixed traffic.

curbside rapidway

The vivastation at Bayview Avenue is curb-side with two levels, to allow customers to transfer between east-west transit service on Highway 7 and north-south service above on Bayview Avenue.

Designing rapidways is complicated, but it takes into account the local area geography and the ridership levels, today and in the future. This ensures that vivaNext is building dedicated lanes in areas that will see the highest levels of improved travel times.

Any questions you have, we are happy to answer. And if you’d like to keep up on what’s happening in the construction areas where we’re building rapidways, subscribe to email updates at www.vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

 

smart growth is supported by transit

May 11th, 2017

smart growth is supported by transit

Recently in the news, planners have been saying that there’s a “missing middle” in the GTA housing market. They’re talking about a lack of low-rise and mid-rise buildings, ranging from low-rise stacked condos and townhomes to mid-rise buildings four to 12 stories high. This “missing middle” is important because it gives buyers and renters more options in the middle ground between single family homes and high-rise condos and apartments. The good news is the formerly elusive low- and mid-rises have started to show up, right where they make sense – along rapid transit routes.

As this Globe and Mail article says, developers are choosing to build low- and mid-rise buildings outside the urban core, where growth is expected. They see the value in low- and mid-rise buildings, because they have a lower capital investment than high-rises, and more buyers/renters per square foot than single family homes.

Markham Centre has been developing for several years, and it is a good example of an area which includes low-rise townhomes and mid-rise business and residential buildings in close proximity to transit, retail and commercial buildings. Davis Drive in Newmarket is also following the trend and has its first mid-rise building being built. This new building will provide much-needed rental housing for local residents. Yonge Street in Richmond Hill already has some mid-rise buildings, with more on the way. Vaughan is a bit different because high-rises are already being built around transit in the urban core of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], with subway and bus rapid transit nearby the area can support more density and will be a popular location once all the new transit services are open. East and west of the VMC has everything from new streetscapes, Viva rapid transit, and a good variety of housing options from traditional single family homes, to mid-rise building.

We’re excited to see these transformations around the Viva rapidway routes in York Region. New buildings are located near the road so that tree-lined sidewalks, transit, shops and restaurants are right on the doorstep for everyone to enjoy.  It is inevitable that areas will continue to grow as populations increase but creating sustainable buildings located near transit is really “smart growth”. And, from a housing option, variety is good for both young and old.

 

it’s time to take a bath

May 3rd, 2017

Recently, we learned about an element of the national public health program in Japan that got us very excited – calmly excited. It’s called “forest bathing.”

Forest bathing is simple and elegant: being in the presence of trees. An article from World Economic Forum suggests, “Just be with trees. No hiking, no counting steps on a Fitbit. You can sit or meander, but the point is to relax rather than accomplish anything.”

We heartily support this idea! Each vivaNext project involves adding trees and greenery to the streetscape because it creates a more livable community. In addition, there’s evidence to show that this actually does help to create a healthier environment for the community’s citizens.

The experiments conducted by Japan’s Chiba University studied the effects of forest environments on the body. Field experiments in 24 forests on young 20somethings found that, “Forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, [and] lower blood pressure… than do city environments.”

There’s an abundance of parks, trails and forests in York Region for you to explore or simply *be* in. But we are also pleased that the Viva rapidways also offer you the opportunity to “forest bathe” as well. So the next time you’re feeling too rushed and too stressed, consider taking a forest bath!

changemakers

April 26th, 2017

changemakers

When building infrastructure and planning the future of cities, professionals in the industry use their years of education and experience to come up with ways for towns and cities to grow. Sometimes though, we benefit from the innovative ideas that those outside the industry can bring.

New ideas in transportation and streetscape planning can come from people who, on their daily commute to school or work, think of better ways to do things. Whether it’s walking, taking transit, cycling or driving, taking note of how people use their streets can bring about new ideas.

Recently, 8 80 Cities hosted 1UPToronto, a youth conference to inspire students in the GTA to be changemakers. Students were asked to suggest solutions to real-life problems in Toronto, and then were tasked to build a prototype using basic supplies. The goal was to get students more involved in their city’s future, but the students’ ideas were impressive, showing that different perspectives can bring about innovative ideas.

We love to see the creative ideas out there, and more than that, we like to be involved in the communities where we’re building. Stay tuned for a youth colouring contest we’ll be launching next week in Vaughan, offering prizes and a chance to have some fun!

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to find out more about the contest.

 

Earth Day is all about creating a better tomorrow

April 21st, 2017

Earth Day – the day we remember the fragility of the planet, celebrate its strength, and commit to creating a better tomorrow for future generations.

In the spirit of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, the theme this year is “EarthPLAY for Earth Day 2017: Connect to your nature!” According to Earth Day Canada, “celebrations across the country are highlighting our great outdoors.”

This commemoration has great meaning globally as well. The Earth Day Network reports that over 1 billion people now take part in this annual celebration! Promotion of the Trees for the Earth Campaign, invites citizens to plant 7.8 billion trees worldwide by 2020 – one for every person projected to be living on the planet.

Our outdoors is important to everyone – whether you’re a gardener or simply love trees and flowers, whether you’re a cyclist or ardent transit fan, you probably feel as strongly about Earth Day as we do – Earth Day shares so many of the vivaNext goals.

Celebrating Earth Day is a wonderful, worthy endeavour. However, it’s so important to think about it every day of the year. At vivaNext, we are solid in our commitment to design, plan and build transit to reduce reliance on cars, to protect and enhance our communities and streets, promote smart growth, and to help create vibrant, livable cities for today and the future.

 

construction lingo primer

April 19th, 2017

We get questions about construction bulletins asking us for more details or explanations – and that sometimes requires us to use technical jargon. To help everyone who has subscribed to construction updates, as we build transit in York Region, here is a list of construction terms and acronyms you’re most likely to see:

  • BRT: Bus Rapid Transit
  • Bore holes: Drilling into the ground to bring up samples of earth for testing.
  • Boulevard: The strip of grass, trees or ground cover between the sidewalk and the road.
  • Canopy: The curved glass and steel structure over a vivastation platform that shelters passengers.
  • Corridor: Areas where vivaNext has construction underway – e.g. Bathurst & Centre, Highway 7 West or Yonge Street.
  • Cut and Cover: The method of tunnel construction that involves digging a trench, building a tunnel, and then covering it with fill.
  • Daylighting: The process of exposing buried utility lines to daylight.
  • Directional drilling: Sideways drilling under structures, roadways, streams, etc. to place pipes, utility lines without excavation.
  • Duct bank: Groups of conduit tubes designed to protect cabling to and from buildings.
  • Environmental testing or sampling: The process of boring, sampling, and testing the soil at various depths to enable geotechnical engineers to analyze characteristics of the soil.
  • Geotechnical testing: Also called “environmental testing” or “environmental sampling”, it’s the process of boring, sampling, and testing the soil at various depths to enable the geotechnical engineer to discover and analyze characteristics of the soil.
  • Hoarding: A temporary wooden fence around a building or structure under construction or repair. For example, there is hoarding around the Union Hotel on Davis Drive.
  • Hydrovac: A large truck-mounted vacuum used to bore holes to locate underground utility cables and pipes.
  • Locates: Coloured markings that locate underground infrastructure. Sometimes they’re done with little flags; sometimes with spray paint.
    • Red – Electric power lines and lighting cables
    • Yellow – Gas, oil, steam, petroleum, gaseous or dangerous materials
    • Orange – Telecommunications, alarm or signal lines
    • Blue – Water, irrigation and slurry lines
    • Green – Sewer and drain lines
    • White – Route of proposed line or location of proposed excavation
    • Purple – Reclaimed water
    • Pink – Temporary construction markings and monuments.
  • PPE: Personal Protective Equipment is what everyone working on a vivaNext construction corridor must wear, even if we’re just out taking pictures.
  • Rapidway: Dedicated lanes for Viva bus rapid transit down the centre of the road.
  • Rolling lane closures: A lane closure that is both short in length and duration, where crews move it from work area to work area. For example, storm sewer inspections require rolling lane closures.
  • Storm sewer inspections: This involves lowering a camera into a storm sewer to inspect it. A storm sewer is used for groundwater, rainwater, surface water, or similar non-polluting wastes.
  • Valve chamber: a pre-cast concrete chamber from which a gate or valve can be operated. Used for water mains.
  • Vivastation: the bus rapid transit stations we’re building on a vivaNext rapidway. Includes a platform in each direction, like a train station.
  • VMC: the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area around Highway 7 West between Edgeley Boulevard and Jane Street in the City of Vaughan.

For more information on ongoing work be sure to subscribe to email updates, and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

it’s all about people

April 12th, 2017

Over the past few years, transit needs across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA] have been a top priority. We’re proud that York Region is actively working to meet those needs by bringing rapid transit to our region. In 2002, the Region produced the York Region Transportation Master Plan and the follow-up Rapid Transit Plan, outlining the Region’s blueprint of multiple transportation initiatives to be built over the next 30 years.

With such a great emphasis on the need for transportation across the GTHA, one would think congestion is what’s driving us to transform the way people commute across our Region. What if we were to tell you that it’s actually people, not vehicles, that drive us to make urban centres connected by transportation ‘corridors?’ We believe that by focusing on people, and thinking about how they will be able to get around the region more easily with efficient transportation options, is how we lead this transformation.  People are looking for more choices, and convenience is top of mind.

For example, much of the new development around vivastations is mixed-use, which provides housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation – all within walking distance of transit. At its core, this puts people first – by creating welcoming public spaces and offering an array of amenities, these communities will continue to prosper and thrive.

Join us on our journey of putting people first by connecting them with their community and more choices.

 

April showers bring May flowers and green rapidway streets

April 6th, 2017

Coming soon: the annual greening of the rapidway!

Once again, the trees, perennials and shrubs already planted as part of the projects on Highway 7 East, Highway 7 West and Davis Drive will be sprouting and leafing and budding and greening up the streetscape.

Not only that, you’ll be seeing crews on Highway 7 West planting in areas that were missed last spring because they were still under construction, making sure the area is as verdant as envisioned!

It’s essential to the vivaNext projects that the streets are attractive for the people who inhabit the communities around them. Not only that, but studies have shown that living in treed areas have can actually have a positive effect on your health.

To keep things growing year after year, the species planted have been carefully chosen. Specially designed soil cell technology helps the soil and roots stay as healthy as possible.

The vivaNext project is about much more than delivering great transit!

keeping our workers safe

March 29th, 2017

keeping our workers safe

2017 is a huge year for the vivaNext program, with rapidway and terminal construction projects under design or taking shape in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

Underlying all this construction activity is one constant priority: keeping the construction crews safe.  Obviously, our contractors aren’t unique in their commitment to safe work practices – worker safety should be a top priority for any organization. This priority is backed up with the force of law. With a few limited exceptions, every worker and work space in Ontario is required to meet the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario [OHSA].

Under the OHSA, all companies have to develop a health and safety policy, setting out management’s commitment to providing a safe workplace. To ensure this commitment is then followed up by action, the OHSA requires employers to develop and implement a safety program to implement the policy. Safety programs are required to address general safety precautions such as worker training, fire prevention and first aid, as well as procedures and requirements addressing the specific workplace hazards company workers may face.

At a minimum, vivaNext contractors are required to follow the OHSA rules, and to take all possible steps to ensure the safety of their crews. Supervisors and crews involved in roadwork are trained in safe practices working around heavy equipment and active traffic lanes, and on the precautions needed for work involving trenching. There are multiple and stringent requirements for work around utilities.

Safety on structures like our new Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] station at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] calls for very extensive safety training. Workers working up high, like the welders, painters and crews installing the steel frame and glass, are trained in and must follow rigorous safety procedures at every step of their work. Explicit requirements are established to manage multiple activities being carried out in one area, to prevent workers accidentally encroaching into the space where other activities are underway.

Safe work requires every step to be planned in advance, and supervisors and crew are all expected to look out for each other, and to immediately flag anything they think might be unsafe. Any incident, no matter how minor, is carefully analyzed to identify potential lessons learned, to avoid it happening again. Everyone working on our projects, including our contractors, trades and all of us at vivaNext, is encouraged to point out anything they think might be a potential risk.

By empowering everyone to make safety their own personal priority, from the individual worker to the members of the senior management teams of vivaNext and our contractors, we can know that we’re doing our best to keep the crews who are widening our roads and building our stations safe and sound.

 


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