Posts Tagged ‘Planning’

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.

the unique challenge of working around business, residential and other private property

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

When you’re talking about private property, chances are you’re picturing someone’s home or business, or maybe a piece of land with a fence around it. But did you realize that every square inch of York Region, as in every other jurisdiction in Canada, is actually owned by someone?

Typically, for projects like vivaNext, when work will be taking place on or near private property, we work with a range of property owners, whether it’s a private individual’s home or business or a different level of government. Here’s how it works:

During the earliest design phases, we map out the proposed design for the future roadway or facility, working with existing information about property ownership. For the most part, rapidways and facilities are intentionally designed to fit within property that is already owned by the future operators of our projects – for example, the Region of York or one of our local municipalities.

As the design process gets more detailed, we analyze how the proposed alignment will fit with the properties along the roadway. We also identify any impacts the project will have on each.

In some cases, such as where the road is being widened, the recommended design may show that we might need to encroach onto private property. Sometimes we may only need access onto private property during construction, and sometimes it’s permanent.

With the final design established, and depending on the nature and duration of the property impact for each property, we then follow a series of established procedures to come to an agreement with the owner.

The agreement will include clarification of how our work will affect their property, how long we’ll need access if it’s only temporary, and compensation if we’re acquiring some part of their property.

The options and arrangements will vary depending on the kind of property and what impact our project will have on it; for example, installing a rapidway across a bridge over a 400-series provincial highway will involve different issues and potential strategies with the property’s owner or representative. In this case, it’s the Ministry of Transportation on behalf of the Province of Ontario.

In all cases though, the process of working with property owners to work out access is a complex part of the design and pre-construction work, and involves many different team members including York Region Property Services, Legal Services, York Region Transit, our design builders as well as our project team.

But no matter who the owner is, being respectful of the rights of all our property-owning neighbours is a top priority for our project with dedicated staff like the Community Liaisons to help answer questions in the field.

 

Engineering well so you won’t notice

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Engineering Well So You Won't Notice

If you’ve ever come to one of our vivaNext open houses, you’ll be able to picture this scene: a room-full of long maps, blueprints and illustrations, showing all manner of lines, arrows and numbers. It’s not necessarily the most glamourous-looking stuff to many of us – in fact, some details can seem downright indecipherable! But to an engineer, these displays represent the product of months and months of immensely challenging puzzles, detailed analysis and problems to be solved.

Like other huge civil engineering projects, the vivaNext rapidways rely on an enormous amount of massively detailed planning; these details probably aren’t top-of-mind for the vast majority of people. When’s the last time you drove down a road in a rainstorm and paid attention to how well the water was draining off the roadway? Probably never. But I can guarantee that if the water was not draining well, you would notice. That’s the point of engineering – to anticipate and plan for a dizzying array of components,  in this case, the elements needed for roadway and transit system building – so that when the final project is built, everything works seamlessly and perfectly.

So what have those engineers (and architects) been doing for the last couple of years, anyway? Here’s a plain-language guide to vivaNext engineering.

Each week at the vivaNext office, our preliminary engineering team sits down and gives an update on all the project components they’ve been working on. Some items – like designing all the underpinnings (e.g. road grade, storm sewers and catch basins to make sure water drains properly) – are critical, but largely invisible. Some of the components require looking well into the future, for example, working with Regional and Town planners to anticipate future land use plans and potential developments to ensure intersections and stations are located where they will be most convenient and useful. Some of the planning is related to urban design issues, such as the kind of materials and finishes that will create the style of urban streetscape we want for our communities.

Did you ever stop to look at a street light pole? I confess that it never occurred to me what went into choosing a street light. I now know that there are many options for street lights out there, and someone actually has to spend time carefully considering what height, diameter, finish and shape will work and look best – not to mention what kind of foundations are needed, how they should be spaced, and what kind of light they will provide. Every decision point impacts the budget, how the streetscape will look and may impact the construction schedule as well.

And as with everything that involves public money, there is an ever-present (and totally appropriate) focus on getting the best value for money, and balancing design objectives with cost-consciousness. Some of these discussions involve items that I suspect many people would find interesting – like landscaping and street furniture choices. Other items deal with equally important but less visible questions (and let’s be honest, not terribly interesting for most people), for example, determining the best and most cost-effective way to protect all the electrical wires that will be buried under our rapidway stations.

Safety and legislated issues are key, of course – ensuring surfaces such as platform tiles aren’t slippery, and that stations and enclosures are accessible. Many questions – such as where to locate fare equipment and displays so people don’t have to go farther than necessary – involve anticipating how people will want to use the system and making sure it functions well. Some of the issues can draw on experience from other places – for example, understanding how wind and weather will interact with our glass canopies, so we can make them as comfortable as possible for riders. Others issues are totally dependent on finding made-at-home answers, by working with local municipalities, who in turn work with their stakeholders. These include things like fitting bike lanes into the roadway design, or how best to protect sensitive natural or heritage features.

One thing I have learned from observing our engineers at work, is how much careful thought, analysis and knowledge is required to build our vivaNext dream. For most – if not all – of the issues, there’s never an obvious answer. Every issue, from the most glamourous to the most prosaic, needs to be debated and weighed, with many different pros and cons considered and balanced. And everything is connected, so nothing is ever as simple or straightforward as you might think.

So next time you walk down the sidewalk or drive along Highway 7, give a thought to what you’re surrounded by, and notice all the little things that make up the streetscape –then consider the additional complexity involved in our vivaNext rapidway system! The effort is worth it to plan and build a vision, to make it work perfectly, and to get people around York Region easily, quickly and conveniently.