Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

BRT >> subway, all under one beautiful roof

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

A great advantage of building a transit system with a master plan, as we are with vivaNext, is that consistent design concepts can be applied across the network. Creating a “vivaNext” look and feel for all our projects is important, whether we’re talking about a vivastation on our rapidways, a unique transit structure like Bayview Towers on Highway 7 East rapidway, or a massive building like the YRT/Viva Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility in Richmond Hill.

the vivaNext look

We don’t take a cookie-cutter approach. Each design is unique, with its own functional requirements and architectural concept. But they share a number of vivaNext brand elements, including airy open spaces; simple but elegant lines; combinations of glass, metal and wood; and most important of all: convenient, welcoming spaces.

Keeping with that approach, we’ve designed the passenger amenities at the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre rapidway station on Highway 7 to feel like part of the vivaNext and YRT/Viva families with features everyone recognizes.

a landmark VMC vivastation

The new station is an extraordinary vivastation for a new downtown destination. The very large, open station sits astride the double rapidway with the bus platforms sheltered by a high, curving roof. The buses are able to drive-through the station for a smooth bus-boarding experience, but waiting could be a bit chilly in cold weather. Passengers have the option to stay warm in glass waiting enclosures on both the north and south platforms, which will feel very familiar to yrt/viva passengers.

The enclosures are larger but otherwise quite similar to the other vivastations, with glass ceilings and walls, comfortable seating, lighting, maps and an emergency call button. They’ll be heated during the winter, with sliding and swing doors to minimize drafts.

seconds from the subway

Getting up and down from the VMC rapidway station to the subway below will be easy, via the escalators and stairs located in both enclosures. Each platform will also have its own elevator.

And, just like at our vivastations, electronic ticket machines, variable message signs (VMS) for current route times, wayfinding signs and CCTVs will be installed outside the enclosures, with additional VMS and Presto machines located down the escalators near the entrance to the subway.

Outside the enclosures, the platforms will feel different from our vivastations, since they’re mostly covered by the roof.  But you’ll know you’re in user-friendly viva territory by the familiar arrangement of crosswalks, ramps and planters filled with lush greenery.

opening Dec 17

It took years to plan this station, and we’re excitedly counting the days to opening on December 17. We can’t wait for you to experience this extraordinary landmark of a vivastation!

a place to connect

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

In Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], there are many ways to connect – to work, shopping, to nature, and to transit. One place that was designed with connections in mind is the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal. An aerial view of the terminal shows the many pedestrian paths leading to it, and the nine bus bays for York Region Transit buses.

But wait, there’s more. Surrounding the terminal there will be amazing things to connect to – a community centre and public library, new condo developments, retail and restaurants, TTC subway and Viva rapid transit. Pedestrians and transit customers will be able to connect to all of these, either above ground through an attractive plaza, or underground via a pedestrian path that leads to the subway concourse of VMC Station. Directly upstairs from the subway is the Viva rapidway station on Highway 7.

Near the bus bays, heated enclosures will help keep customers warm, and the laminated wood roof above will lend warmth to the design.

Why is it named SmartCentres? It’s part of an agreement with SmartCentres, who contributed to the costs of the pedestrian tunnel. Aside from SmartCentres, it’s funded in large part by York Region and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE or Line 1 extension].

SmartCentres Place will begin providing full bus service in December, but the terminal will only be partially open, as final work continues into early 2018.

With connections like these, York Region’s transit will have everyone on the move.

your sneak peek >> three new subway stations

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

your sneak peek >> three new subway stations

This Saturday, October 28, you have a chance to get a sneak peek at the three most northerly subway stations on the TTC Line 1 subway extension. Drop by Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC – pictured above], Highway 407 or Pioneer Village stations from 1 to 5pm and take a self-guided tour where you’ll learn about how the stations were built and how they’ll operate. You’ll also be able to talk to staff and others involved in the project.

VivaNext staff will be there to chat, and YRT/Viva customer service staff will be on hand to talk about route changes on the way for the VMC.

The stations open on December 17 – bring your friends and family to get a good look around, at three new subway stations in York Region! Get there by transit or by driving – shuttle buses will get you from station to station. For details about locations and how to get there, visit spadina.ttc.ca, and for information on the vivaNext projects opening December 17 in the VMC, check out the pages for the VMC rapidway station on Highway 7, and for SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal. See you at the open house!

the kids of Bathurst & Centre have vision >> here’s the colouring contest video!

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

This spring, the young artists in and around the Bathurst & Centre neighbourhood were asked to imagine the future of transit in the vivaNext Next Stop… Bathurst & Centre! colouring contest.

And now, you can check out our latest video to see some of the public colouring sessions held at the Bathurst Clark Library and the Dufferin Clark Library, some of the wonderfully imaginative entries, the judging session conducted by vivaNext staff – and the winners.

Just to shout out the winners again, within the three categories, the winners were: Anton [6-8 years], Daniel [9-10 years] and Lale [11-12 years]. Visit the contest page for a closer look at the winning artwork.

We hope the kids who participated had as much fun creating these masterpieces as we had viewing the gallery of all the entries.

The wonderful ideas and creative details expressed by the young people in their art entries is inspiring. We can’t wait to see what they design and create as they grow up!

To find out other activities we’ve been to in the community, have a look at the vivaNext community events page.

 

 

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

 

bridge expansion >> driving piles and pouring piers

Friday, August 25th, 2017

When you go under a bridge, what do you see? Huge concrete columns – piers – that support it. The five-metre expansion of the bridge on Highway 7 West over Highway 400 is becoming fully visible as the new piers are completed. In the photo above you can see the three completed piers and crews pouring the concrete cap for the fourth.

Each one of these piers is held up with a set of nine piles. Piles are long poles driven straight down, until they reach a surface solid enough to hold everything above. In this case, the piles are each nine metres long.

In the photo, the tall piece of equipment beside the west abutment wall is the pile driver, which is – as you’d expect – used to drive the piles into the ground.

On top of the pile-supported-piers, there will be bridge footings, girders, and a wider deck to make room for cars and trucks – as well as buses on new vivaNext dedicated rapidway lanes and a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists.

While it’s true that piers are just a part of the bridge, the bridge is part of a road, which is part of a rapid transit system, which connects people to where they need to go.

Next time you go under a bridge, look at the piers that support it, and the engineering and construction that went into them.

We’re building rapid transit, and along the way making infrastructure – built to last.

 

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

 

what’s gravity & slope got to do with it?

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

While we’re building the rapidway projects, it’s not unusual for us to be talking a lot about retaining walls. If you’ve ever wondered why so much of our work seems to involve retaining walls, the answer can be summed up in two words: gravity and slope.

Simply put, retaining walls prevent soil from sliding down a slope. If a slope is very gradual as you might see on a lawn or wide flowerbed, for the most part the soil and earth pretty much stays put. But where there is a slope over a short distance that creates even a difference in grade, the force of gravity will make the soil slide downwards.

stopping soil slippage

The steeper the slope, the more likely it is that the soil will slide. If you have a lawn that’s even a few centimetres higher than an adjacent driveway or sidewalk, you’ll know that without some kind of edging, eventually the dirt will flow down onto the pavement.

Retaining walls are like edging; they’re structures that keep the soil in place where grades need to change within a short distance. And retaining walls can be short or high. For example, a curb is essentially a very short retaining wall.

where retaining walls fit in on the rapidway

In many stretches along our rapidway construction zones, the adjacent land is either higher or lower than the roadway – in some cases the difference is only a few centimetres, in others it’s a metre or more.

Because we’re widening the road, that difference in grade level now has to be made up over a shorter horizontal distance, making the slope steeper than it was before. In areas where the resulting grade difference between the road and the land slope is very steep, a retaining wall is needed to keep the soil in place.

where design is king

Some of our retaining walls are essentially high curbs; others are high structures requiring handrails and complex foundations.

Every one of our rapidway segments has a significant number of retaining walls, each requiring its own design, approvals and construction process. In all cases, retaining wall construction takes place once utilities have been moved out of the way, and needs to be finished before road widening can be started.

With so many retaining walls forming part of the new streetscape, design considerations are of major importance. A lot of effort goes into ensuring that the new retaining walls contribute to the aesthetics of the streetscape as well as be functional.

Different materials and finishes are used for different walls, from pre-formed wall blocks similar to what you’d use in your own garden, to poured concrete with decorative exterior designs.  Design approaches vary depending on how high the wall is, what kind of foundation it requires, and what it is adjacent to. And if the wall or adjacent slope is especially steep and the wall is next to a sidewalk, it will also get a specially designed handrail.

So the next time you see a bulletin advising about retaining wall work, think of gravity and slopes, and you’ll know that’s why we’re building these additional structures.

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

what exactly is a ‘partial rapidway’ ?

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

what exactly is a ‘partial rapidway’ ?

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.

 

 

it’s time to take a bath

Wednesday, 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!

Earth Day is all about creating a better tomorrow

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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.