Posts Tagged ‘Construction’

the ballet of building the VMC canopy

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre – Spadina Subway Station

The giant sections of structural steel canopy were installed this fall in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area – right in the middle of Highway 7 West – and it was a ballet of precision.

Having a large structure like this arise in the centre of a roadway is an incredibly unique construction event.

That’s why we made sure we were out on the corridor watching and recording the action to share with all of you.

The largest section lifted was 25,000 lbs – over 11,300 kg! You can read more about this new Vivastation, and check out the video to see how this feat was done.

 

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

designing for the future

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Who can remember? Not so long ago Highway 7 in Markham and Richmond Hill was a suburban highway: a few isolated developments, lots of parking lots and open fields, but no sidewalks, no plantings, no bike lanes–and certainly no dedicated rapid transit bus lanes. Just look at it now!

In only a few years from start to finish, construction begins and is completed on each of the rapidway projects. In the world of infrastructure renewal, vivaNext construction projects are known to be implemented very efficiently, and we’re doing everything we can to maintain that great reputation.

years of work are behind the design

What’s not so apparent to the public is the lengthy design process that happens long before construction starts. Design of the many engineering and architectural elements must take place stage by stage. Throughout, the designers need to balance staying true to the original vision with making it work in different conditions and geographical areas.

a variety of disciplines at work

VivaNext uses a multi-disciplined design team including: engineers who specialize in civil, traffic, structural, geotechnical, electrical and transit systems; architects; environmental consultants; landscape architects, security experts and more.

many stakeholders weigh in

At each stage, different options and features are reviewed, adjusted and improved with input from municipal staff, utility companies, local conservation authorities, property owners and others. Depending on the location of the project, specific design issues are addressed in conjunction with the owners of adjacent infrastructure including GO Transit, 407 ETR, CN, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

the stages of each project

The process is not a fast one; the Environmental Assessment process, which established the conceptual design for vivaNext, was begun in 2002, and the whole process for any one segment from Preliminary Engineering to service start may take 6 or more years. Here’s an overview of the stages each of our projects go through, before shovels can hit the ground.

•    Environmental Assessment [EA]: The EA examines alternatives and identifies a preferred design. The vivaNext conceptual design shows the approach for individual segments like the number of rapidway and traffic lanes, boulevards and planting zones and the arrangement of stops and stations. The EA then identifies potential design impacts on the natural and built environment, traffic, noise, drainage, property, etc., and proposed strategies to avoid or mitigate and monitor them.

•    Preliminary Design: This stage takes design to approximately 30% completion and establishes the outlines of the project including its alignment and profile, what additional property is needed to build the project, development of major components like bridges or culverts for water crossings, entrances and intersections, utilities, and listing permits and approvals.

•    Detail Design: This stage fleshes out the preliminary design for all elements. For example, preliminary design may identify that a high retaining wall will be needed at a specific location; 60% design will show the kind of foundation needed and the wall’s general construction; 90% design will show the colour and design of the material to be used on the outside of the wall, and 100% will show all details and specifications required to construct the work.

•    Issued-for-Construction Drawings: These are the final design drawings to be used by the contractors, once all approvals are complete.

By the time vivaNext is complete, all our projects will share the original design vision, but their individual design will reflect local requirements and various conditions. Each segment is tailor-made to be functional, convenient and beautiful, with the primary goal of providing a rapid transit system for the future. Which is, and always has been, the ultimate vivaNext design objective.

detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

detecting vehicles at traffic lights >> a mystery solved

If you receive construction emails from us, you might know that we’ve installed vehicle detector loops at intersections with traffic signals. But if you’re like most people, traffic lights, and their various components [what are vehicle detector loops, anyway?] are probably one of those subjects you don’t give a lot of thought to. So next time you’re waiting for that light to change, here’s a primer on vehicle detector loops, and why you’ll be glad we’re installing them as part of our projects.

To begin with, vehicle detector loops [the technical term is “inductive-loop vehicle detectors”] are flat, loose coils of wire covered in light plastic, which are buried in the asphalt under the lanes at an intersection.

In York Region, most of our vehicle detector loops are approximately 4 metres square, and extend from the pedestrian crosswalk and across the stop bar [the wide white line going across each traffic lane at intersections] for approximately 15 metres.

The point of a vehicle detector loop is to detect when vehicles are sitting at the intersection. Vehicle detector loops are able to do this through a process of magnetic induction, which results when metal objects [i.e., vehicles] are nearby. Put simply, the presence of the vehicle results in a change in the magnetic field of the loop. This change is detected by the traffic signal controller [a large box located near every signaled intersection], which in turn sends a message to the traffic signal to begin turning from red to green.

York Region owns and or maintains 848 signalized intersections [traffic lights occasionally are used in other settings such as single lanes through construction zones]. Most of York Region’s traffic loops are located on side street lanes, in left turn lanes to activate advanced left turn signals, and on rapidways to detect transit vehicles.

The Region also uses “Matrix” vehicle detection, a pole-mounted system using radar imaging, in construction zones where lanes are moved, and where it’s problematic to install traffic loops. For more information on the technology of traffic signals, check out york.ca/intersections.

Ultimately, traffic loops improve the performance of an intersection, helping traffic flow by detecting you better.

 

connecting the drops

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

connecting the drops

The importance of upgrading Canada’s infrastructure is everywhere in the news these days. Infrastructure includes everything from bridges to roads and transit, to utilities such as hydro lines, sewers and water mains. Each vivaNext project includes improvements to infrastructure and utilities, leaving a lasting legacy for residents and businesses. One of the most important pieces of infrastructure is a water main – bringing fresh water to your mealtime prep, your kids’ bath tub and even your local swimming pool. In Richmond Hill, the residents and businesses connecting to Yonge Street are getting a new, modern water main to prepare for future growth.

Although to some people it might not seem very glamorous, an important example of a major infrastructure improvement is the replacement of the Richmond Hill water main, which we’re doing as part of the vivaNext Yonge Street rapidway project. This work will replace 3.7 kilometres of water main along Yonge Street from just south of Garden Avenue [north of Highway 407] to Major Mackenzie Drive. The water main, which supplies water to the adjacent residents, is owned and maintained by the Town of Richmond Hill, with construction done by the vivaNext Design Build contractor.

Water main replacements, especially in busy thoroughfares like Yonge Street, require complex planning for design, staging and construction. As with all our work, we need to find a balance between a number of competing priorities. One priority is to maintain service to households and businesses who depend on the water main. Another priority is to get the work done in a way that minimizes disruption to traffic. And, as always, we need to plan the design and construction in a way that gets the most value for money, including future maintenance costs.

To avoid existing underground utilities and simplify construction, we’ll relocate the water main to run under the traffic lanes on Yonge Street. We also want to avoid locating it under the new planters that will be built along the sidewalk, in the event that future maintenance on the water main is needed.

Replacement water mains are generally located as close as possible to the original water main, to preserve existing connections to residences and businesses. As a result, construction proceeds more slowly to avoid any damage during excavation to the existing water main, which stays in use until the new one is ready for service.

To minimize disruption to traffic, workers will be building the new water main from inside a trench box, which significantly reduces the amount of space needed to carry out the construction compared to regular excavation. The benefit of constructing in less space is that fewer lane closures are needed during construction, which is critical on Yonge Street.

However, trench box construction has to move more slowly. The rigid trench box also makes it more challenging to work around conflicts with other buried infrastructure. From time to time we can expect progress to slow down while crews get around other underground utilities. Construction will be followed by a lengthy process of pressurizing, cleaning and testing, all to meet very strict government standards.

Once the new water main is ready to go, a new connection to each address along the main route will need to be made, along with additional connections to other water mains at intersections. Individual addresses are relatively straightforward to reconnect, but businesses and multi-unit residential buildings take longer, with connections to larger pipes and fire lines. This process of disconnection and reconnection will be planned ahead, with communication with each residence and business to minimize disruption.

We’re excited that the community is going to be getting a new water main, built to the most modern standards. Our team is working with the community during construction to help minimize any impacts to parking and driveways. And we’ll make sure there’s lots of clear signage to help guide you through construction areas.

It’s a huge project, and it’s going to be pretty messy out there for a while. But long term, it’s great news for the residents of Richmond Hill that this huge investment is being made in infrastructure. We hope this helps explain what the crews are doing out there, and how it makes a difference to the community. For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter.

 

the freedom of July

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

the freedom of July

July means freedom to kids and youth who are out of school, and spending time outside walking, biking and taking transit. It’s a time filled with the promise of new adventures and fun on the horizon.

We’re all for adventures, but with so much activity on York Region’s streets, we hope everyone will keep safety in mind too. If you’re out for a walk or bike ride, be sure to stay outside of construction areas – even ones that appear inactive. Cross at sidewalks, and be aware of vehicles nearby. If you’re driving, give pedestrians and cyclists some extra space and lower your speed in construction areas.

Most of our projects are on or near the road, so we’re very safety conscious when setting up construction sites.

When setting up work sites, our contractors abide by legislation, safety guidelines and local bylaws, including: the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Occupational Health and Safety Act [1990], Ontario Traffic Council [Book 7], and bylaws of York Region and local towns and cities.

Safety of the site and the construction workers is very important on any project. By keeping the community informed of work and maintaining good directional signs, the teams work together to make sure everyone gets home to their families.

We hope everyone finds a little adventure and a taste of freedom this summer – stay safe!

 

what’s in a sign?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

What’s in a sign?

Even with the most careful planning, construction zones pretty much always result in some delays and congestion for commuters, and we know that our vivaNext rapidway projects are no exception. We are committed to doing whatever can be done to minimize the impact of construction and keep people informed.

One way of doing that is to let drivers know if there’s congestion along their route, and if so, how much of a delay they can expect. By giving real-time information, drivers can decide if they should take an alternate route.

That’s why we install variable message signs, or VMS, on the approaches to our construction zones, including along Yonge Street and on Highway 7 near the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Using Bluetooth Traffic Monitoring [BTM] software, these signs show actual travel times, in real time, between specific locations. Roadside sensors collect Bluetooth data from passing cars, and the information is uploaded to a central location. The software then analyzes the data to determine current travel times, which is reflected on the signs. In addition to travel time, project managers can update other information on the signs, such as upcoming work or lane closures.

BTM is able to detect Bluetooth signals emitted from cell phones, tablets and other Bluetooth or Wi-Fi devices on-board, and convert this into accurate information, simply and inexpensively. Not all vehicles carry devices with Bluetooth turned on, but there is a high enough proportion of devices to provide effective information.

Cars emitting Bluetooth signals are randomly chosen as they pass into the defined area.  Multiple sensors placed along the route detect the unique identifier of each Bluetooth signal and track it as it travels through the area. In this way, the system measures in real time how quickly cars are moving, and reports actual travel times. The software has built-in algorithms to make sure it only tracks vehicles while ignoring Bluetooth signals emitted from pedestrians or other stray sources. The information is constantly uploaded to the VMS, telling drivers exactly what’s happening on the route ahead.

The technology to use Bluetooth data to analyze travel times has been around for some time.  But vivaNext was actually the first project in North America and possibly the world, to collect and convert this information for display on variable message signs.

What’s in a sign? We know that the signs on their own won’t reduce the disruptions caused by construction. But by providing drivers with accurate travel time information, they’ll know what to expect for their commute.

 

connecting Vaughan – east and west

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

connecting Vaughan – east and west

We’re building rapid transit in York Region – Bus Rapid Transit and subways – to connect York Region residents and commuters from north and south, east and west. Markham and Newmarket both have east-west rapidway connections, and next it’s Vaughan’s turn. From Yonge Street to Helen Street west of Highway 400, the new vivaNext rapidways will connect travellers with fast, convenient Bus Rapid Transit.

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] is a hub of activity and the rapidway project is moving ahead quickly to open between Jane Street and Bowes Road by the end of 2016. Along the rapidway, Viva will stop at vivastations at Creditstone Road and Keele Street. Once the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] opens in December 2017, Viva riders will also be able to connect at a vivastation west of Jane with direct access to the new subway station below, and a YRT bus terminal a short walk away. To see an overview of the project, check out our latest video.

This spring, construction begins on rapidways that will link vibrant communities in the east and west of Vaughan to the transportation options and development in the VMC, and to the rest of York Region.  We know it helps to be aware of what’s happening and when, so we promise to keep you informed and up-to-date along the way. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to email updates for vivaNext projects, and follow us on Twitter.

the murky world of underground infrastructure

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

the murky world of underground infrastructure

Property ownership and development are generally straightforward concepts: people or businesses own land, including any assets that are built on that land, and only they can decide when and if any improvements are to be made.

But what happens when the property is located underground, and the improvements are being made by someone other than the property owner? Welcome to the murky and confusing world of underground infrastructure, where ownership and decision-making are much more complex than above ground.

Underground infrastructure, which includes gas and power lines, telecommunications, watermains and sewers, is always owned by either a private company or the municipality. But generally utilities are located under roads or sidewalks, or on private property; utility companies typically do not own the land where their utilities are located.

In most cases underground infrastructure is located in the “public right-of-way”, including roads, sidewalks and boulevards. If a utility company wants to make a change to their own infrastructure, such as making a repair or increasing capacity, they need to get municipal approval before any work can be done. This “municipal consent” process is set out in legislation, and ensures municipalities can control and coordinate utility work on public lands or roads. This is critical, especially when utility work requires road closures or detours or will have some other impact on the public.

Municipalities also can set restrictions on when and how utilities can access their own infrastructure, to minimize impacts on the public and protect the municipality’s own infrastructure. For example, a municipality might impose a moratorium on changes to private infrastructure on newly built or repaired streets, so that new asphalt isn’t dug up.

In all cases, our projects spend a lot of time coordinating with utility companies to resolve any conflicts between the rapidway and streetscape elements we’re building, and the multiple utilities using the same space. In many cases, utilities can co-locate, for example telecommunications may share a common duct bank, and be buried next to hydro. Designs for all relocated utilities have to work with our vivaNext design, and in some cases where space is limited, working through the design process to fit in all the elements can be extremely challenging. Municipalities also have views on where they want elements located; the Region avoids locating utilities in their roadway, whereas local municipalities prefer to keep utilities away from the planters.

Once the design is established, a schedule is worked out with the Region or municipalities, specifying how long the utility work will take. Utilities are given a specified amount of time to close lanes as part of the final permit; even if the work is next to the road, lanes often need to be closed to give workers room to work safely. Our design-builders will coordinate construction work with the utility relocations, since only one activity can be carried out at a time in any given place.

The last but very important part of this complicated process is reducing the disruption for nearby residents and businesses. Once the design and municipal consent is complete, the utility and vivaNext community liaison team work with property owners to discuss access to properties while work is underway.

A lot of moving parts need to be coordinated and resolved before any underground infrastructure gets moved, but our teams are committed to coordinating these efforts with everyone’s best interests in mind.

 

 

warranty work >> ensuring quality for years to come

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

warranty work >> ensuring quality for years to come

When you’re building rapidways for generations to enjoy, it’s important to make sure that the end product is what we want.

Everything – from the paving stones on the sidewalk, to the glass in the canopies, to the red asphalt – is tested, inspected and verified by qualified engineers with a keen eye for detail. Anything that doesn’t make the grade is placed on a “deficiencies list” that the builder is responsible to remedy. That’s why you may see occasional construction activity in the first couple of years after infrastructure projects are done.

Project managers of infrastructure projects call this the warranty work phase – an opportunity to catch any issues so that they can be fixed while the infrastructure is still under warranty. It often takes all the seasons in a full year to see how things weather in our climate or perform once in use.

Much like when you buy a new house, it can take one or two years for the foundations to settle, and for you to make note of where the finishes are less than desirable. Then the contractor comes back to fix all the nail pops and cracks in the drywall, fill any gaps in the molding and repaint where necessary. It ensures that you are happy with the work, and you get the most out of your home. Warranty work is the same idea for our facilities, stations and rapidways.

On Davis Drive, we’re starting with the grinding and smoothing out of curbs, fixing paint finishes and filling small cracks, and of course taking note of anything else that needs work.

Whether you’re a regular transit rider, or are considering your first trip on the rapidway, know that we are working hard to provide you with a quality experience and infrastructure that’s built to last.

 

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

We’ve heard your questions about vivastation locations along Centre and Bathurst Streets, so here’s everything you need to know…

The Phase 2 rapidway project will include 10 new vivastations, with five of them along the current Viva bus route on Bathurst and Centre Streets. This is already one of York Region’s busiest Viva routes, so stops were planned where people will want to get on and off Viva.

From west to east, this is where the stations will be:

  • Centre Street at Dufferin Street.
  • Centre just east of Carl Tennen Street & Vaughan Boulevard.
  • Centre at North Promenade & Disera Drive.
  • Bathurst Street at New Westminster Drive.
  • On the connector road between Bathurst and Yonge Street.

As with all rapid transit in York Region, we plan stations to be walking distance from shopping, important services, and places to live and work. When it’s all done, the Centre and Bathurst area will have updated utilities and traffic signals, tree-lined streets and bike lanes. Preconstruction starts this year, including utility locations and relocations, and watermain upgrades.

For more information about the project, visit our project page. And if you have any other questions, feel free to comment or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.