Archive for the ‘Construction’ Category

who’s who of winter maintenance

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

They say it can sometimes take a village to raise a child. Well, the same can be said for winter maintenance in one of our construction zones – we work with local municipalities, cities and towns, and our crews to make the construction zones as safe as possible for pedestrians and drivers.

 

road and sidewalk maintenance

During construction, road and sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the construction contractor within the project areas.  But during the winter, the Region and local municipalities are responsible for ensuring the roads and sidewalks are kept clear. Before winter arrives, we ensure every aspect of the construction zones is compatible with the requirements for winter maintenance operations.

This means making sure the snow-clearing equipment can manoeuver through the construction zones, boulevards and platforms.  Our design work and construction staging plans have always had those requirements top of mind, but we walk through the sites with Regional and municipal staff again before winter to identify any little details that might impede their operations.

During winter, we work closely with the constructor to repair potholes, ensure proper signs are installed, organize construction barrels for proper delineation for motorists and pedestrians, etc. We also take steps to ensure traffic moves through the winter, including making travel lanes as straight as possible through the construction zones, and ensure traffic markings are clear.

 

municipal versus regional roads

Did you know there are more than 50 Regional roads in York Region? Regional roads are usually main arterial roadways that connect the nine local municipalities to one another. These roads are operated and maintained by York Region, and each is identified by a numbered Regional road sign. Local roads are operated and maintained by local municipalities.

This means that the Region is responsible for clearing snow from Regional roads. Similarly, Towns are responsible for clearing snow from municipal roads. The Region often has agreements with municipalities, where the Town is responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks on the Regional right of way

 

challenges from Mother Nature

Living in Canada, we all know how cruel Mother Nature can be. The fluctuating temperatures and general unpredictability of weather can sometimes cause havoc on our construction sites.

Our construction zones often suffer from the freeze and thaw of winter, meaning road bumps or potholes can appear (and appear often they do!). Potholes and road bumps often appear due to general wear-and-tear, and not as a sole result of construction. Regardless, crews from the Region and our contractor, are out repairing these road settlements often. Road cuts and temporary asphalt patches are only effective when applied on dry pavement and temperature above 6 °C.

These are just some of the ways we work with our Regional partners and constructor to make the construction zones as safe as possible for pedestrians and drivers. Our crews remain busy with the fluctuating weather, so sign up for electronic construction updates.

we’re preparing for spring [despite what groundhogs may say…]

Friday, February 2nd, 2018

we’re preparing for spring [despite what the groundhog may say…]

The groundhogs seem to be of differing opinions about when spring is coming. Of the big three – Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam and Punxsutawney Phil – one says winter is over, and two predict six more weeks.

We’re ready for spring to come at vivaNext, with lots of plans afoot to continue the transformation of York Region’s busiest roads to rapidways.

When spring has sprung and the ground has thawed, our crews will be ready to carry out their detailed construction plans.

We carry out construction in all seasons, but there are some things that need warmer temperatures, like road widening, paving and of course, planting! Planters will be installed along Yonge Street in Newmarket this spring. At our newly open Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station, the planters are ready and waiting for a green touch, soon to be filled with greenery.

We’re paving the way to spring with information, preparing newsletters on our projects, and keeping our Board and local stakeholders updated. Subscribe to sign up for email updates today.

At this time of year, we’re looking forward to ramping up our work. It’s not long now, and whether the groundhogs are right or wrong, we’re ready for spring.

viva la winter!

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Brr, it’s cold out there, or unseasonably warm, depending on the day. You never know what’s in store. Regardless of the weather, our construction crews continue to expand the Viva rapidway system to improve connections in York Region. The winter season lends itself to certain types of work, especially the kind that happens above ground.

shiny, new canopies

Forget the January blahs! It’s been exciting times on the Bathurst & Centre corridor this past month. The first two vivastation canopies were installed at Bathurst/Hwy 7 Station located on the Bathurst connector road, one for each side of the station. There’s nothing like seeing that crane lift the canopy into place!

The elegant, arched glass canopies evoke traditional European transit infrastructure, transforming the everyday experience of transit into a beautiful one. A third canopy is coming this winter to the vivastation on Bathurst at Atkinson Avenue.

Looking to the west, construction of the first vivastation platform is beginning to take shape at what will be Commerce Street Station on Highway 7 West.

On both Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre, road widening and construction of storm sewers, retaining walls and culvert work is underway. Winter is also a great time to relocate hydro lines and install new poles, which is getting close to being completed in this area.

signals, check!

Our Yonge Street projects are not as far along, and the underground utility work they need to do is limited during cold weather. Crews have made some progress on installing underground duct banks and gas mains in Richmond Hill. Traffic signal work, a good above-ground winter activity, and is also underway. In Newmarket, crews are preparing to start work on the east side of Yonge when the weather gets a bit warmer. They’ll be replicating the road widening that was performed on the west side last year.

planning season

Winter is also a great time to make plans, large and small. We’re working together with the TTC on design and engineering for the biggest plan of all – the Yonge Subway Extension. Also, our staff and contractors are carefully planning spring construction schedules for the Viva rapidway projects, coordinating in advance with stakeholders, and procuring contractors for other projects.

Come spring, our crews will be raring to go, full steam ahead. If you’d like to keep on top of what’s going on in your community, we invite you to sign up for updates.

the critical role of spiders in building Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Now, before you think we’ve imported some exotic tropical arachnids, what we call “spiders” are actually the stainless steel fittings that hold together the glass pieces on our stations. They’re called spiders due to their shape, and they play a critical role in the architectural and structural design of our stations.

For the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] rapidway station, the main structural support comes from the welded steel superstructure that forms the distinctive curved shape. Over top of that, steel, custom-made spider fittings are bolted to each steel intersection. The spider fittings support the individual glass panels on the station’s sides and skylight.

410 panels of glass

Each triangular-shaped panel of glass is attached by brackets on the legs of the spiders. Because each piece of glass is a unique size and shape, the job of attaching the glass to the spiders is very fiddly. The extra-large 50 by 24 metre VMC canopy has an eye-popping 410 panels, each equally spaced and slightly different due to the station’s curved planes. The tempered glass can’t be cut or drilled on site without shattering, so holes for the brackets were made during the fabrication process.

beautiful precision

We knew if the holes in the glass didn’t line up exactly to the spider brackets, the glass pieces wouldn’t fit. Since glass fabrication is a fairly slow process, we didn’t want to risk having to go back and remake a piece. Rather than making the glass in advance, we installed the spiders, then measured them with a 3-D laser scanner that registered the targets as multiple cloud points; essentially the same process used to make a 3-D model.

The last step was the installation of the glass panels to the station roof, and seeing all this precision and planning come together for beautiful results. Now if you visit the VMC rapidway station, you can take shelter under a strong and stunning glass canopy reminiscent of the great European architectural traditions, right here in York Region.

 

beautiful curves of glass

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

If you’ve ever had to replace a window in your house, you know that working with glass is fiddly, exacting work. It needs to fit perfectly or you’ll get drafts and leaks. Glass has no tolerance for being the wrong shape or size. And dropping a pane from a window: well, that means another trip back to the store.

Now, imagine the challenges of installing the glass on the curves of our new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] rapidway station. As you can guess, it was a long, multi-stage process, done with great care and precision.

strength and safety

As with all our vivastations, the VMC glass was laminated and tempered for strength and safety. First the glass was cut into panes, and then it went through a special process to make it extra strong. This way, if it breaks, it crumbles into small granular chunks instead of sharp pieces.

To add more strength and make it even safer, we then laminated the tempered glass by sandwiching two glass sheets together around an interlayer. If the glass is broken, the interlayer holds the small pieces together instead of breaking into many little shards, the same way a car windshield stays together in an accident. The interlayer on the blue skylight glass is actually a different, stronger material than the interlayer used for the clear side glass, since the top skylight needs to support heavier loads from snow and maintenance workers.

creating curves

Fitting flat glass to the curved shape of the station was a challenge, because every surface of the steel roof curved over two dimensions, much like the outside of a ball. The first step was to divide the glass into a series of triangles. Three-sided shapes are easier to work with compared to four-sided shapes, the same way a tripod is more stable on uneven ground compared to a four-legged chair.

But this still left the challenge of fitting flat pieces of glass over a curved frame. The solution here was to adjust the bolts on the corners of the spiders [the stainless steel fittings that hold  the glass pieces onto the frame] so they’re each set at a different height. We knew how high each bolt needed to be from 3D scans, so we adjusted them before we installed the glass. By installing each corner of glass at a slightly different height, we recreated the curves of the tubular steel frame.

intricate jigsaw puzzle

The last step was putting the glass panels in place, one by one. Although they were all triangles, every piece was unique like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, so to avoid mix-ups they were carefully numbered before they were delivered. Once the glass panels were bolted onto the spiders and the final adjustments made to perfect the curve of the glass, we sealed the gaps with caulking to make the structure weather-tight.

Building this strong and beautiful glass-covered station took precision, but look at the stunning results! This landmark station helps set the architectural stage for future development at the VMC and makes the everyday experience of transit a beautiful one for our customers.

Subway and new Viva connections NOW OPEN in Vaughan!

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

This morning, the first subway carrying transit customers arrived in York Region, forging a historic connection between bus rapid transit and subway. Now, everyone can experience seamless transit connections in Vaughan! The vivaNext rapidway and new landmark vivastation also opened for service this morning with an epic celebration at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], alongside the TTC Line 1 subway extension opening. Viva la subway!

Read the news release.

even more transit connections

Now the transit connections available to customers simply go further and faster. The rapidway-subway connection marks a tipping point for transit in York Region, amplifying the power of the Viva rapid transit network.

The VMC area is a transit powerhouse, home to two new stations: the landmark Vaughan Metropolitan Centre vivastation and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre subway station – the new terminus of TTC Line 1. In a few months, the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal will make the VMC area even better, connecting YRT buses to both stations with a pedestrian tunnel.

true city building

There’s no doubt – your destination has arrived! The new VMC development is true city-building on an epic scale, built on the foundation of strong transit connections. Not only does rapid transit transform how people move in our Region, it changes how we live – for the better. Stronger economies, more jobs, and walkable, livable, desirable communities: it’s the driving force behind York Region’s Transportation Master Plan and the reason we build rapid transit.

On an even larger scale, strong connections like these that cross regional borders are crucial to the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], and a key strategy of the Metrolinx Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan.

Thank you!

Now we can see the network take shape in York Region, with three rapidways running, two more underway and an actual subway connection!

Changes of this magnitude are fueled by the power of collaboration and funding partnerships. Our rapidway projects are funded by the Province of Ontario, and our other projects are funded by a combination of Federal, Provincial and Regional contributions. SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal even includes some private funding for the pedestrian tunnel.

We’ve all come a long way together, and we thank you for your patience during construction. Now, we hope you enjoy the ride!

proof of performance

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

The days are counting down and the excitement is growing. The launch of our extraordinary new vivastation at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, along with the ground-breaking TTC Line 1 subway extension and our rapidway, is only four days away. Now we have one last crucial task to complete before our gorgeous new station joins the transit mega-hub at the VMC: we need to carry out commissioning.

testing, one, two, three

Commissioning of the new bus rapid transit station is similar to the process we do for all our new stations, rapidways and facilities. Very simply, it means confirming everything we installed, from the heaters and automatic doors in the passenger enclosures, to the cameras, speakers and variable message signs [VMS] on the platforms, works the way it’s supposed to.

Before their work is done, our builders have to test every single device and piece of equipment to demonstrate they met all their obligations. The station has complex equipment for fares and security, and all the general building components like lights, plumbing, and electrical connections. Systems connect to the central York Region control room, enabling them to see the platforms, hear the speakers, run messages on the VMS and communicate through emergency call buttons. During commissioning, every light switch, outlet and connection is tested. Our builder also works with the new station owners, YRT/Viva, to help them assume operation.

smart systems

The new station is part of a highly sophisticated system which includes the broader rapidway network and its whole range of intelligent transportation system [ITS] features. ITS is really the reason Viva is able to operate as a rapid transit service, keeping our system running on time with supervision from YRT/Viva’s central control room.

trial run

A critical part of commissioning is testing the newly finished components in the new VMC station and the surrounding rapidway, to make sure they’re all connected properly to the control room and the rest of the system. Testing for full integration requires that we run buses through the new rapidway for a day. During that process, we’ll make sure that all the traffic-related components are communicating properly to the buses and to the general system, and ensure the traffic signal timing is set for optimal travel times.

This station has one more layer of complexity beyond the other stations we’ve built, because of its connections to the TTC. We need to check every interface with the TTC system, which includes electrical connections running between our station and their panels below.

Commissioning is the final step, and you can see why it’s so important to do it carefully and methodically. Because of that complexity, some work will continue on the station in 2018. But once it’s finished, get ready to celebrate and enjoy faster transit with us!

Transit gets epic in Vaughan this Sunday

Monday, December 11th, 2017

Get ready for the game-changer. Transit is about to get epic at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], and you’re invited. On Sunday, December 17, this public launch event is set to change the face of transit forever in York Region.

The public opening of the TTC Line 1 Subway Extension will make history, as the first subway ever in York Region brings transit customers up to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Today was another great day for integrated transit connections in the York Region and the GTHA – as we celebrated the official opening of the newest bus rapid transit [BRT] rapidway segment and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] Station on Highway 7 West. This new vivastation will be fully connected to the new VMC subway station.

Bus rapid transit meets subway for the first time!

you’ll be moved!

The new rapidway section runs west of Jane Street to Edgeley Boulevard, with dedicated centre lanes that will whisk riders to the VMC with faster and more consistent travel times. Including the previously completed section, the rapidway will run the full 3.6 kilometres from Bowes Road to Edgeley, the bus-only lanes clearly marked for drivers with red asphalt.

Coming in 2018, SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal will complete the transit powerhouse at VMC, as YRT buses begin providing services from this stunning new bus terminal.

an extraordinary station

Along with the rapidway comes an extraordinary vivastation for a new downtown destination – the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station. The design supersized our traditional vivastation arched glass canopies, inspired by historic and modern European transportation architecture. The open, airy, domed glass canopy shelters the road and station.

the future is now

It’s only 43 minutes via subway to downtown from the VMC, but there’s no need to go anywhere. If you’re at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, you’ve already arrived!

Welcome to the brilliant future of transit-oriented development, right here, right now in York Region. The VMC shows what it’s all been about: rapid transit connections that fuel livable, walkable, desirable communities, spur jobs and economic growth, creating places where we all want to live, work and play.

 

collaboration now and for the future

Friday, December 8th, 2017

Building our Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station required close collaboration with the TTC, since it’s so near to their new subway station – literally on top of it, in fact! The collaboration began at the design stage, and continued between our two construction teams as we brought the plans to life.

staging for success

With the new rapidway station being built in layers, and in the middle of the road, staging was crucial for both the vivaNext team and TTC. Staging means carrying out work in phases, such as shifting traffic lanes from side to side to give crews room to work safely. Another example was how we stayed clear of the TTC work crews while they finished the subway box, before we started on the concrete and rebar that went on top.

teamwork

Coordinating with the TTC, vivaNext crews shifted the traffic to one side while we built the road on the other side, and they worked on that side of the underground subway structure. Then, when we flipped the traffic back to widen the other side, the TTC also switched sides. A detailed planning process ensured we both did what we needed to do, in the right order and the shortest possible time, without tripping over each other.

Building the escalators and elevators from the TTC station to the BRT station also took detailed planning and coordination. Rules and specifications determine how closely crews can work to adjoining crews. The subway and rapidway stations share a very small area. If you’ve ever done a renovation, this was like having one group building the stairs, and another building the walls and hanging the wallpaper.

the collaboration continues

Most of that coordination is done now, with the vivastation area fully under our contractor’s control. We’ll continue to work closely with the TTC as we get to the final stages of signoff for the station equipment. On opening day, December 17, there may be some finishing touches still required, but we will open for service!

The collaboration continues even after the work is done, since the goal of the new station is to create seamless connections between Viva rapid transit and the TTC. We’re looking forward to a long, happy future of working together to get you where you want to be.

the crowning touch

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Ready for the crowning touch? The new SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal comes with a mesmerizing pièce de résistance – a sweeping, curved wooden roof, as beautiful as it is functional.

Reminiscent of West Coast style, the horseshoe-shaped roof shelters the outdoor bus stations in beautiful elegance. A fluidity breathes life into the design, curving in a slight v-shape from the outside in, and rising up at the wingtips and the saddle. You can almost feel the motion, very fitting for a bus terminal with YRT/Viva services branching out across York Region.

an intricate jigsaw puzzle

The simple elegance of the roof belies the complexity of its creation. The wood pieces need to look curved, but they are flat. Custom-cut to the architect’s design, they fit together with the steel substructure, which was also designed in custom pieces.

It’s like a very complicated jigsaw puzzle. Every section is numbered and assembled with exact precision. When the flat pieces fit together, they create the appearance of a curved roof. High-strength glued-laminated timber beams support the roof, running vertically and also lengthwise.

Not only does the wood look stunning, it was a cost-effective choice and is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified to York Region standards. When it’s finished, it will be stain-coated with intumescent fire-retardant material.

 a showstopper for a new downtown

The result is an eye-catching landmark – a roof that draws the eye and a terminal where you can pass the time in style. After all, SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal is not your run-of-the-mill bus station. As part of the vibrant, new downtown flourishing at Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, this bus station needs to look the part.

Set to open in 2018, the Terminal will complete the transit powerhouse at the VMC: subway, rapidway and YRT/Viva terminal, working together to move you, faster and easier than ever before.