Posts Tagged ‘Highway 7’

the expansion of the Highway 400 bridge on Highway 7 West begins

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

Many of you have already noticed the work that has begun on Highway 7 West at the bridge over Highway 400, so here’s an overview of the components of the newest mega-feat of engineering that you’ll see happening over the next few years.

The project is part of the Highway 7 West rapidway project in Woodbridge-Vaughan and it will include expanding the bridge – with the new segment added to the north side – by approximately 5 metres.

New piers

Construction includes four new piers to support the expansion, which means new foundations, footing and forms. With multiple lanes above and below, this is a complicated project and safety is paramount for both the travelling public and the workers on site.

Huge girder lift

In September, the first piece of a gigantic girder will be lifted into place. This girder, which is needed to support the expansion of the bridge, will be installed in five pieces.

Multi-use path and rapidway

What makes this project especially remarkable, is that it will not only include dedicated red-asphalt bus lanes, but a pedestrian and cycling path will be constructed in the centre of the bridge between the bus rapidway lanes. Once complete, the bridge will provide roadway and connections for all types of transportation modes.

Realigned ramps

That’s not all. In addition, two of the ramps on the east side of Highway 400 will be realigned in order to accommodate potential future development. And to accommodate the waterway conditions in the area, new culverts will be built under the new ramps.

You’ll be hearing much more about this massive undertaking as time goes on. Next month, we’ll look more closely at what’s involved in expanding the bridge itself – think piers, pile drivers and parapets!


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a look back at the CN MacMillan Bridge expansion

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

As work starts up on the Highway 7 bridge over Highway 400, which is being widened to accommodate rapidway lanes and a multi-use path, let’s take a look at a completed bridge expansion project: the CN MacMillan Bridge.

The Highway 7 bridge passes over the CN MacMillan Rail Yard, the second-biggest rail yard in Canada.

The expansion project, which was part of the Highway7 West-VMC rapidway project, involved widening the bridge by 8.5 metres to accommodate the two lanes of rapidway that opened in February 2017.

Crews poured 4,000 tonnes of concrete to build abutment walls, piers, foundation and piles, sidewalks and decks; embedded 300 tonnes of reinforcing steel; and built a new pedestrian sidewalk and hand-rail and bike lanes!

All of the work expanding the bridge had to be done – and was accomplished – without stopping the trains or impacting the 10 sets of tracks. For safety purposes, before construction even began, crews had to rehearse set-ups and take-downs with numerous safety drills so it would proceed like clockwork.

During construction, crews worked very closely with CN to coordinate work around train schedules. An additional challenge was the fact that the rail yard, which handles one-million-plus cars per year, also operates 24/7.

Mega feats of engineering and construction like the CN Bridge project are beginning again with the expansion of the Highway 7 west bridge over Highway 400. Next month, we’ll take a look at the different components of work involved for this project.

For information on ongoing vivaNext projects be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at

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



urban parks bring us together

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

urban parks bring us together

Having at least one feature park is a hallmark of a great city. Central Park in New York, Stanley Park in Vancouver and High Park in Toronto – they’re all natural gathering places. We go there on a hot summer day to find some shade or a splash pad, and on a snow day we go there to skate or make a snowman. Parks make our towns and cities more appealing places to live and work, so it’s important to have them right in the centre of things, where we can get to them easily by taking transit, walking or cycling.

Green parks are beautiful, and a refreshing change from the indoors, but there is also something to be said for the more activity-oriented parks and parkettes. In Markham, Toogood Pond and Milliken Mills are full of picturesque trees and ponds, but the Pride of Canada Carousel in the heart of Downtown Markham also offers a fun diversion from everyday life. If you don’t live right around the corner from these, you can get there on YRT or Viva.

In Newmarket, Fairy Lake Park and the Mabel Davis Conservation Area provide green places to gather for sports and culture, connected by the Tom Taylor and Nokiidaa Trails and meeting in the middle at the Riverwalk Commons, where people gather for concerts and events throughout the year. Mabel Davis and the Tom Taylor Trail can be reached via the new Viva yellow route on Davis Drive, and on the south end of town, YRT will get you there.

In Richmond Hill, Lake Wilcox Park has cultural and culinary events most summer weekends, and is a stone’s throw from the new Oak Ridges Community Centre and Pool. A short walk west from the Viva blue route on Yonge Street is Mill Pond Park – the heart of Richmond Hill’s downtown and host to concerts and neighbourhood festivals all year.

Parks can be activity-focused too, such as Vaughan Grove Sports Park in Woodbridge, offering several soccer and baseball fields just south of Viva and YRT routes on Highway 7. On the northeast corner of Highway 7 and Jane Street, Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will be adding one more important development to this already bustling construction area: an urban park. Edgeley Pond and Park will be in the middle of commercial and residential developments – a place welcoming to all who will live and work there. With a rapidway on Highway 7, the northernmost station of the Spadina subway line and a bus terminal at Highway 7 west of Jane, this park will be connected in all directions.

As we start to see a hint of the spring weather to come, let’s remember how important it is to have great parks, connected by great transit.


matching the heights

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

matching the heights

With the extraordinary maneuvering required to install the roof sections of the VMC BRT station in its location in the centre of Highway 7, you might think the most challenging part of this project has been its incredible glass and steel canopy.

It’s true that installing the canopy of the station required a lot of planning and meticulous engineering. But actually, the coordination of the underground subway station with the BRT station above has been – and still is – a much more complex logistical challenge.

the mechanics of it all

Building the actual physical connections between the two structures was involved but not unduly complicated, similar to any building that has a framed structure on top of a concrete slab. Because the top of the station is wider than the lower part and overhangs at the edges, we couldn’t use rebar dowels, which are the most common construction method. Instead, we used mechanical couplings that enabled us to essentially bolt the top to the bottom.

working together

What makes the project more challenging is that the subway station is being built by the TTC, while the above ground BRT station is being built by vivaNext. With two different owners, and two different contractors, the project demands an intensive degree of coordination and planning.

Joint planning work began long ago, starting with establishing the specific requirements for how the project needed to be built, both below and above ground, and inside and outside the subway station. With the TTC building the subway station up to the surface, and vivaNext building the BRT station from the ground up, the heights of floors and ceilings had to line up perfectly.

top to bottom, inside and out

The vertical elements between the lower and upper floors – including the stairs, escalators and elevators – had to be installed early, with no margin for error. Escalators are very rigid, designed to fit perfectly between floors. And because the rapidway runs right through the station, the top of the escalator, stairs and elevator also had to align precisely with the existing level of Highway 7 outside.

At the same time as the TTC was building the lower levels of the subway station, we were outside building the civil works – the roadway, curbs and gutters – that surround the BRT station. Again, because the rapidway runs through the station, the heights of the underground parts of these elements had to fit with the height of the subway box below.

The BRT station is well on its way and is already a head-turner. In the not-too-distant future, all of this engineering and coordination will make it possible for you to step off the escalator at VMC subway station and easily make your way to the BRT station on Highway 7 and beyond.

See an artist’s rendering of the VMC BRT station once complete.


making sparks fly

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

making sparks fly

If you’ve been near the future Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] vivastation recently, you’ve likely seen our welding crews up on man-lifts. And if you’re like most people, you probably didn’t give the welding process much thought – welding is welding, right? Lots of protective clothing, impressive clouds of sparks, and something gets permanently stuck to something else.

Of course, as always with all our engineering and construction activities, there’s so much more going on than meets the eye, and welding on the VMC station is no exception. Here’s the primer on what they’re doing up there, and what some of the complexities are.

Since we’re talking vivaNext, form and function both matter. There are two ways to join two pieces of metal: bolting them together, or welding them. Bolting works well enough, and is the most common method used on bridges, high rises and many other structures. But bolts show, and when the design – as for the VMC station – is for a smooth, seamless architectural look, bolts would be out of place. So welding was chosen as the method to join the pieces of steel throughout the structure.

Welding design takes into account the ultimate strength and performance needed from the structure being joined together, including the loads it will bear, and any flexibility it will require. In the case of the station’s steel superstructure, we are using “full penetration” welding. That means that the two elements being welded together are literally being fused into one piece. Rather than one piece being stuck onto the other, enough heat is applied that the two pieces melt and become one at a molecular level. With this type of welding, it’s not just one surface being glued to another; the joint literally goes through the full depth of the elements being connected. The resulting element is as strong structurally as one solid piece of material.

Once the weld is done, it is reviewed by the welding contractor for certification that the weld meets the required standards including having no impurities or voids. The reviews are generally done visually, although in some cases x-rays will be used. Our general contractor will also do their own quality control, and carry out random spot-checks on many of the welds.

In general, welding can be done until the temperature drops to -18 Celsius. But this specialized kind of welding requires warmer outside temperatures. When temperatures are -5 or below, some weld areas may need to be pre-heated with electrodes.

We’re moving as fast as we can to get the roughly 200 structural welds done, with welders working in shifts, each safely attached by full harnesses to a man-lift while they’re up high. Once the sparks are finished, and because it’s too cold out to paint steel, our last step will be to protect the welded areas with an anti-rust finish.

If you’re in the VMC area, we hope you’ll slow down and look around you. If you do, you’ll be able to admire up close its sleek, architectural lines, and understand all the work that went into making the steel superstructure smooth, strong and beautiful.


so many different activities this year in Vaughan!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Vaughan 2016 year in review

So much has happened this year along Bathurst and Centre and on Highway 7 West. Just take a look!

In this video, you can check out some of this year’s behind-the-scenes activity – like trees being transplanted to parks, and pre-construction work – as well as the very visible work you saw, like water main and gas main construction.

It was a big year for rapidway work as well, with boulevard and planting on Highway 7, red asphalt in the rapidway and the big vivastation canopy going up in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area.

New utilities, wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, shade-giving trees – and smooth rapidway are all part of the vivaNext projects, creating new infrastructure that will serve generations to come, and leave a lasting legacy for the Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre communities in Vaughan.

As the year comes to an end, it is great to reflect on our accomplishments. We look forward to more progress in 2017.

For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at

building sustainable communities

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

YouTube video: Building Sustainable Communities

As our towns and cities grow, we need to prepare for the future. Long term planning means that everything we need is all in the right place ahead of time. That means all the major necessities: transportation, utilities, community services and more.

In York Region, we know our population is continuing to grow – by 64% by 2031. Employment is also expected to increase by a whopping 59%, and all this will mean more demands on our roads in general [50% more demand in the morning peak], and especially an increased need for fast, convenient transit.

That’s why rapid transit systems are part of the plans in York Region. Bus Rapid Transit systems are supplying current and future demand with Viva rapidways that offer time savings. On the Highway 7 rapidway in Richmond Hill and Markham, travel times are 42% faster than in mixed traffic.

These improvements to our infrastructure are appreciated. On Davis Drive in Newmarket – the newest rapidway to open – YRT/Viva ridership increased by 39% between February 2016 and February 2015. According to a 2015 survey, 80% of residents living near an opened rapidway believe the project added value to their community.

From Markham to Newmarket to Richmond Hill and Vaughan, it’s about maintaining vibrant, welcoming communities that are prepared for growth and sustainable for many years to come.


when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

Friday, November 25th, 2016

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

When urban projects that bring complete streets happen in a big city, they have an impact. A recent big-city example is Simcoe Street in Toronto, which increased pedestrian space and added bike lanes. But to be honest, these projects don’t create the same splash as they do in small cities. In fact, they can get a bit lost in amongst the city as a whole.

When urbanism comes to small or even medium-sized cities, the effect can be huge – even transformative – creating  a new downtown. And the vivaNext and subway project in Vaughan is doing just that.

A recent article, called “New Urbanism’s impact on small-to-midsize cities”, from the American journal Public Square, lays out several remarkable examples of the effects of complete streets’ on smaller centres.

The article describes the positive impacts urban projects have had on a selection of small U.S. cities:

  • Positive impacts in Birmingham, Michigan. Since urbanism came to Birmingham the city now attracts more shoppers and visitors. In fact, in the wake of the urbanism projects, Birmingham has changed its motto to “a walkable community”.
  • Revitalized Albuquerque, New Mexico. Urban changes to land use in Albuquerque have created “a lively mix of entertainment, shopping, office and houses in place of cheap surface parking and underused buildings.”
  • Formerly forlorn Providence, Rhode Island. Before the urbanism project in Providence, the city had a deserted, empty yet heritage-rich downtown. Urbanism has brought the area back to life “with a vengeance”.

Closer to home, the Highway 7 East vivaNext project in Markham has transformed the street from being a highway with gravel shoulders, to being an attractive place to walk, cycle, drive and shop with convenient rapid transit Viva buses along the route. The project has helped set the stage for new development in Markham, such as York University’s new campus.

In Vaughan, people are starting to flock to the new urbanized area known as Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is seeing new urban development in Vaughan and includes design elements such as pedestrian-friendly boulevards, wider sidewalks, attractive landscaping, bicycle lanes, upcoming bus rapid transit and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE]. New developments are coming to this new mobility hub, transforming the area.

Urbanism in York Region is part of the exciting movement for smaller cities to grow right, serving the Region’s communities for generations to come.

For more information on the vivaNext projects, be sure to sign up for email updates and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at


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.


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