Posts Tagged ‘subway extension’

subways? yes, our network will include subways

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

subways? yes, our network will include subways

Rapid transit plans in York Region have always included subways, along with aboveground bus and rail. Each of these has different passenger capacities, construction costs, and impacts on surrounding communities, so plans include a combination of transit types, with a focus on having a seamless network.

As far as subway is concerned, we’ve been planning for the Yonge North Subway Extension [YNSE] from Finch Station to the Richmond Hill/Langstaff Urban Growth Centre at Highway 7. The YNSE is the missing link in terms of transit for the GTHA, because Yonge Street is the central transportation artery, and has been for generations.

Because it’s the missing link, we’ve been doing critical planning and engineering studies to ensure that we’re shovel-ready. The Environmental Project Report and Conceptual Design Study are complete, and in partnership with Metrolinx, TTC and City of Toronto, we completed a Yonge Relief Network Study [YRNS] to determine Yonge Subway capacity.

The YRNS concluded that the number of already committed/funded initiatives underway will increase the capacity of Yonge subway and divert existing and future riders to other corridors. These increases in capacity will accommodate growth until 2031, and offset the immediate need for the Downtown Relief Line until after 2031.

Metrolinx has recently recommended that we move ahead with completing 15% preliminary design for the Yonge Subway extension, so we’re working very hard on that. To advance the project even more, we’re advocating to the new federal government about their recent commitment to double infrastructure investments and transform transit and transportation systems ($60 billion in additional investments over 10 years).  With our shovel-ready projects in hand, we’re looking forward to the next wave of projects.

Combined with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension, Regional Express Rail, new GO Train stations at Gormley and Bloomington and other transit projects, the YNSE will vastly improve the overall network for those who live, work and travel in York Region.


CN Bridge expansion: when transit intersects

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Did you know that as part of vivaNext’s rapidway project on Highway 7 West in the City of Vaughan, construction is underway to expand the south side of the Canadian National Railway [CN] MacMillan Bridge? The bridge surface, located west of Keele Street will be widened approximately 8-metres to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

Aside from being one of the most widely-used bridges along Highway 7, most drivers may not even realize that each time they cross the bridge, they are driving over the CN MacMillan Rail Yard, the largest rail yard in Canada.

Named after former CN president, Norman John MacMillan, the yard measures approximately 6.5-kilometres in length and 1.6-kilometres in width and was developed in the late 1950s as part of CN’s redesign of the Toronto trackage network. The yard operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and handles over 1 million railcars per year to service local businesses in the Vaughan area, as well as the broader North American economy!

As part of the bridge widening, construction activities include:

  • removing the existing walls and sidewalks on the south side
  • backfilling with 8,000 tonnes of earth
  • pouring 4,000 tonnes of concrete to build walls, columns, sidewalks and bridge decks
  • embedding 300 tonnes of reinforcing steel and;
  • completing the surface finish with new light standards and pedestrian hand rails.

Sounds like a lot right? So how do we do this without impacting CN’s business?

During construction, rail yard operations along the 10 sets of tracks will be maintained, and the contractor will work closely with CN to coordinate activities around train schedules. The majority of the construction activity will happen below and underneath the bridge. Motorists will notice large equipment and construction vehicles such as large cranes, transport trucks, drill rigs and concrete pump trucks onsite for certain operations, including sub-surface drilling, pouring concrete and the installation of large pre-cast concrete sections.  With the increase in construction vehicles, safety awareness is important if you are travelling through the area.

In order to maintain traffic flow along Highway 7 during the bridge expansion, the centre median was removed earlier this year and traffic was shifted to the north side of the bridge. To further minimize disruptions, an access road off of Highway 7 is also being constructed for equipment and deliveries. Due to the nature of this work, there will be noise and vibration around the work area. Being mindful of our neighbours, noise and vibration monitoring will be conducted to ensure levels are kept within industry standards.

The first phase of the Highway 7 West rapidway in the City of Vaughan will extend 3.6 kilometres from Interchange Way/Edgeley Boulevard to east of Bowes Road. The project features three new rapidway vivastations, wider sidewalks, landscaped boulevards and transit connections to the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and the York Region Transit Bus Terminal. The CN Bridge expansion work in Vaughan is expected to be complete in 2016.

For more information about vivaNext projects, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

transforming vaughan

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

VivaNext is committed to designing and delivering an exceptional rapid transit system – one that will help shape growth in our communities, connect York Region’s urban centres and provide faster, more reliable and congestion-free trips. The vivaNext rapidway in Vaughan is more than just a transit project. It also includes urban design elements such as pedestrian-friendly boulevards, wider sidewalks, attractive landscaping, bicycle lanes and green open spaces for the whole community to enjoy. Check out this video and take a ride with us along the corridor to see what is happening.

As you can see, the transformation along Highway 7 West is well underway. Last year, in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area (also known as phase one of the vivaNext project in Vaughan) crews were busy removing signs, and relocating utilities in preparation for construction.

This year, you will see significant construction activity in this segment. Traffic lanes will be shifted and bus stops will be relocated in order for crews to continue infrastructure work for hydro, gas, storm drains, watermains and begin road widening. Construction has also started on the south side of the Canadian National Railway [CN] Bridge, located west of Keele Street. The bridge surface will be widened approximately 8-metres to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

In the phase 2 area east and west of VMC, crews will be working intermittently along the corridor on preliminary construction activities such as soil sampling and other environmental investigations.

Work on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] also continues this year.  When completed, this subway line will include six stops, 8.6 kilometres of track. Residents and visitors alike will enjoy the mixed-use, transit-oriented development offered in the VMC area, including convenient passenger pick-up and drop-off, a York Region Transit bus terminal, and connection to the Viva rapidway running in dedicated lanes east and west along Highway 7. It will be a great place to work, shop or relax, and getting there will be easy whether you walk or ride transit.

Throughout construction, we’ll keep everyone informed and minimize disruptions as much as possible for those who live, work and commute in Vaughan. For more information on any of these projects, or to sign up for construction notices so you can stay in the loop, visit

managing the vivaNext plan

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

When I first joined the vivaNext team, it was pretty small since we were still at the early stages of our rapid transit program.  Now, with an overall team of nearly 78 at York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (YRRTC); and many more staff and experts allocated to the projects through the construction contractors, all these people are working on the vivaNext plan which is going flat out, with planning, procurement, design and construction activities underway concurrently.  Here’s the rundown on what we’re doing now, and a preview on some of our other projects you’ll hear more about soon.

The most visible parts of vivaNext – our rapidway construction projects on Highway 7 East and Davis Drive in Newmarket – are definitely a major focus for our team, but they’re only part of what we’ve got going on these days. Moving a major infrastructure project like a rapidway segment forward from the early design stages to the introduction of service requires years of careful planning and oversight, starting with preliminary design and environmental assessments years before construction can start.   The same general work plan is currently being followed for the remainder of the Highway 7 rapidway (opening next year) and along Davis Drive in Newmarket.  Project management for our active construction projects involves a large part of our team, including engineering, property, finance and communications staff.

In addition, we’re in the early stages of pre-construction for the rapidway on either side of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) on Highway 7, with final design work being completed for the VMC station itself, overtop of the TYSSE concourse for the subway.

At an earlier stage, but already demanding dedicated project teams, is the Yonge Street rapidways in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, and the rapidways that will be built along this major commuter line.

And because a rapid transit network needs more than new lanes, stations and streetscaping, we’ve also got a number of dedicated facilities to plan and build, which will provide the future vivaNext system with more capacity for passengers, bus maintenance, and commuter parking.  All of those components are currently under active development, requiring the involvement of project teams with property, design, engineering and financial expertise.  Our currently funded projects add up to a total program value of $3.2 billion, which will see us build 37 km of bus rapidways with 38 stations, an 8.6 km subway extension with six stations, an operations facilities, two bus terminals and multiple park ‘n ride facilities over the next five years in York Region.

Last but definitely not least, lots of activity is underway to secure funding for future segments starting with the extension to the Yonge Subway, which is the missing link needed to fully connect the vivaNext system to the broader GTHA transit network.

Everyone at YRRTC works on multiple projects, which allows us to share our knowledge across the program, identify what’s worked well in the past, and ensure that we build on success.   Collectively we’ve already amassed a lot of expertise, making design and construction refinements to future projects that reflect what we’ve learned so far.

We all work hard, but the enthusiasm we pick up from the community is so motivating, it’s hard to imagine doing anything more satisfying.  We know that with just a few kilometers of rapidway open along the Highway 7 East rapidway, transit travel times have already been reduced and traffic flows improved.  So we’re all looking forward to the major improvements that we’ll all get to enjoy, when the whole system is open in a few years from now.

Stay tuned for regular updates throughout 2014, it promises to be a significant year for transit.


as the cold wind blows…

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Seems like just yesterday vivaNext was ramping up construction activities at the first sign of warmer temperatures and while the warmer weather was here this year, a lot of progress was made along the vivaNext corridors. We captured our developments and put together a short video to share the progress of the transformation for each corridor.

Building on our successes, we will keep the progress moving even as we wind down for the return of Old Man Winter. Although the weather specialists forecast a cold winter season, our vivaNext construction projects will continue as the snow flies and the cold wind blows.  Here’s a snapshot of what we’re going to be working on this winter along the vivaNext corridors and how we’ll manage to keep construction moving along even when the temperatures plunge.

In Newmarket, crews will continue storm sewer installation, utility relocations and underground ductbank [gathers together and encases telecommunication wires] installation along Davis Drive. The south side of western creek culvert near Niagara Street will be also be widened over the next several months.

In Markham, utility relocations will continue on South Town Centre Boulevard, Cedarland Drive and Warden Avenue. Some construction work will also continue on Highway 7 East in the centre median.

Along the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] corridor, hydro, gas and telecommunications installations and relocations will continue. Work will also begin on the CN Bridge. Preliminary construction activity also continues in Vaughan along Highway 7 West from Helen Street to Edgeley Boulevard and from east of Bowes Road to Yonge Street, including parts of Bathurst Street and Centre Street.

On Yonge Street, surveying, geotechnical testing and utility locates will take place in Richmond Hill and Newmarket. In early 2014, the design-build contract of the Yonge Street rapidway will be awarded. Once the contract is awarded, rapidway construction will begin.

While construction continues outside, inside our contractors are preparing for a busy spring. They are finalizing designs, plans and schedules for next year so when the warm weather returns construction crews can hit the ground running.

To see the progress we’re making over the winter, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also sign up for email notices at to keep you updated on the construction underway in your area.

‘Holey’ ‘Moley’ tunnelling is complete!

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

photograph provided by The Toronto Transit Commission [TTC]

Here at vivaNext, we’re excited to announce that the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) project has achieved another significant milestone – tunnelling for the project is 100% complete!

In the summer of 2011, the first Tunnel boring machine (TBM) “Holey” began boring from a launch shaft at the Downsview Park Station site. Since then, rain or shine, TBMs “Holey”, “Moley”, “Yorkie” and “Torkie” have been working hard and have collectively bored 6.4 kilometres of twin tunnels for the TYSSE project.

The final segment of tunnelling was finished when “Torkie” broke through the headwall at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) Station site, finishing the tenth and final tunnel drive for the project. This sets the stage for the next phase of work in the tunnels including installation of inverts and walkways, track, traction power, signals and communications systems.

With help from our friends at Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) we have some pretty cool photos and videos of the breakthrough to share with you on our website – see them here!

The TYSSE is an 8.6-kilometre extension of the TTC’s Yonge-University-Spadina subway line from Downsview Station to the VMC Station at Highway 7 in York Region.

Vaughan’s VMC station will be the northernmost station, connecting to a variety of other transit services. Situated in the future VMC development area, this station will act as a transportation hub, including convenient passenger pick-up and drop-off, a York Region Transit bus terminal, and connection to the viva rapidway running in dedicated lanes east and west along Highway 7.

Residents and visitors alike will enjoy the variety of transit options and mixed-use development offered in the VMC area. It will be a great place to work, shop or relax, and getting there will be easy whether you walk or ride transit.

Construction work for the TYSSE project is expected to be completed by fall 2016. Once the subway extension is completed, it will have 6 new subway stations (check out the TYSSE guide to station names) and 3 new commuter parking lots.

To learn more about the TYSSE project and sign up for construction notices, visit

choosing the right form of transit

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

In September the Province set up an expert panel to look at how Metrolinx should be expanding transit in the GTHA, and to propose realistic options to pay for it.  The panel has just released their second discussion paper, and it’s well worth a read for anyone interested in getting beyond the rhetoric and really understanding the facts and issues.

Certainly the issue of what transit technology should be funded, and where it should run, is a subject that’s dominated the headlines for months and is of interest to everyone.  It’s understandable that so many have views on this subject, and it’s also reasonable to expect that the people doing the planning should listen to those views.

But in the final analysis, choosing a mode of transit – the main rapid transit options are subway, LRT, BRT and commuter train – shouldn’t be treated like a popularity contest. There’s just too much money involved.  Each mode of transit has its uses, benefits and drawbacks.  Those qualities are well known to transit planners, and need to be thoroughly and objectively analyzed in the context of local circumstances including passenger volumes, current and anticipated densities, employment projections, and present and future land use patterns.

Planners ideally will look at a range of transit modes to meet the needs of users across a region or area, with the primary consideration being a seamless system that enables passengers to make easy, fast connections.  That doesn’t necessarily mean the trip will be non-stop, or use the same technology the entire way.

This is a concept we all already live with, so we shouldn’t expect transit to be any different. Pretend you are taking a trip to a small island in the Caribbean.  You’d probably drive to the airport, then you’d get on a big jet, then most likely transfer to a smaller plane for the last leg, or maybe even a boat if you were going somewhere out of the way. You’d never expect the big jet to swing by your house to pick you up at your door, then whisk you non-stop to the tiny island.  Getting around the GTHA, depending on where you’re travelling from and to, follows the same logic.  Some riders may need to take surface transit, then transfer to one form of rapid transit – and then possibly to another mode to complete their trip.  The key point is to create a system that gets you there as fast as possible.

In a world where there’s only so much new money available for transit, careful decisions are needed to ensure final choices get the greatest number of people into transit, reducing gridlock on the road system.  The most costly option – subways – should be reserved for where it will do the most good, i.e. get the greatest number of cars off the roads.  Given that the need for new transit massively outstrips the money available, every single transit dollar needs to be spent wisely.

Professional analysis of facts has always been the basis for our vivaNext decisions. That’s why we’re installing BRT – the lowest cost form of rapid transit – along Highway 7, with the option to change to LRT when future volumes justify it.  On the other hand, the ridership and future employment projections do justify the cost of extending the subways north to the VMC, and along Yonge Street from Finch to Highway 7, so our plan includes subways too.

We’re proud of the system we’ve planned and are building for York Region, and are looking forward to the day when it will be connected to a system that covers the entire GTHA.  Now that’s something we think everyone will support.

bringing vaughan metropolitan centre to life

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

We recently posted a great blog on planning that talked about the link between transit and new urban communities. Given that tomorrow (November 8), urban planners from towns and cities in over 30 countries worldwide will celebrate World Town Planning Day, we thought we would take a moment to highlight another one of York Region’s amazing communities, and see how vivaNext transit projects fit into York Region’s planning vision.

In the Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, selected areas in Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan are targeted to have new, urban “downtowns.” They will be vibrant, higher density, attractive destinations with a full range of amenities so that people can live, work, shop and play in the same community. These “centres” will be connected by transportation “corridors” that will make it easier for people to get around the region. That’s where we come in. Our vivaNext rapidways will run along the corridors, connecting the centres through transit and safe and efficient travel options for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike.

You can see the vision for one of these centres coming to life in the City of Vaughan’s new video about the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] . Located in the heart of Vaughan, centered on Highway 7, between Highway 400 and Creditstone Road, VMC will be one of the largest and most ambitious development projects in the area’s history, and is a superb location for Vaughan’s new downtown.

In the VMC, mixed-use transit-oriented development is proposed along a tree-lined main street, including businesses, residences, entertainment and cultural facilities, as well as pedestrian shopping areas. The VMC area will act as a transportation hub, including convenient passenger pick-up and drop-off, a York Region Transit bus terminal, and viva rapidways running in dedicated lanes along Highway 7.

VMC will also be home to the northernmost subway station, as part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE], an 8.6 km subway extension from Downsview Station, northwest through York University and north to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre. An entrance to VMC Station will be built on Millway Avenue, between Edgeley Boulevard and Jane Street to provide easy and efficient connections to other transit services.

With approximately 442 acres of development opportunities, VMC also includes:

  • Projected office development: 1.5 million SF
  • Projected retail development: 750,000 SF
  • Minimum of 12,000 residential units
  • Population potential: 25,000 new residents
  • Employment potential: 11,000 jobs of which 5,000 will be office jobs

It’s exciting to visualize how Vaughan will evolve in the years to come. To find out more about other vivaNext projects, visit our projects page.


working together….

Friday, October 18th, 2013

If you get vivaNext email updates, you probably recently read that Yorkie and Torkie the tunnel boring machines are munching their way closer and closer to Highway 7 and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC).

This is great news, and means that the reality of a subway coming to York Region is getting closer every day.  But while the tunneling project is very high profile, vivaNext is also working hard to get ready for the subway opening at our VMC station.   Unlike other vivastations which we are building independently, the VMC station construction needs to be closely coordinated with the subway project, adding a whole new level of complexity.  Here’s a little background:

The VMC station will be located at Millway Avenue and Highway 7, as part of the VMC development area.  To provide passengers with seamless connections between the subway and the viva\YRT system, the subway station will be located on the lower level, with a concourse linking the subway to the vivastation above.

That may all sound relatively straightforward, but in fact there are significant engineering challenges involved with constructing a complicated building in the middle of a live highway, especially  when there’s a separate construction project going on directly underneath.  One of our top priorities is to ensure while we’re building the station to our own design plans, it also ties in to all the complex TTC systems down below so that everything works properly and in sync.

Some key elements such as escalators, elevators and stairways link the two structures. These need to be in place so the TTC can access the upstairs while they’re building their subway station down below. Escalators and elevator shafts aren’t very forgiving, so we need to work closely together to make sure all the elements line up perfectly.

Another challenge is that there’s not a lot of space to work given the location of the station in the middle of Highway 7.  From time to time we’re literally going to be working right on top of each other.  So we will be doing a lot of coordinating throughout the process to make sure all our contractors and subcontractors have enough room to do their jobs safely and in parallel.

The main priority for vivaNext and the TTC is that both parts of the VMC station are open when the subway service begins.  There’s a huge amount of work to be done between now and then, and we’ll be working closely with our TTC partners during the course of construction.

So stay tuned, and soon I’ll be giving you a proper tour of the VMC station design.  It’s going to be a showpiece that will be worth all the hard work.


vivaNext – more to come

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

When it comes to the future of transit in York Region, you don’t have to look far. The first rapidway along Highway 7 east corridor is now up and running smoothly. With it came wide pedestrian-friendly boulevards, lined with trees and other greenery. The transformation taking place along the Viva routes will change how pedestrians, cyclists and motorists not only view the area in general, but get from A to B more easily, more safely and more efficiently.  Check out this 3600 virtual tour for a peak.

This is just the beginning of many miles of rapidway that are under construction or coming soon.  Here is an update of what’s happening.

Construction on Highway 7 East continues and crews are working hard from Highway 404 to Warden Avenue to widen the road, build pedestrian boulevards, plant trees and shrubs as well as installing utilities. This next segment of rapidway is expected to be completed in 2014.

Moving along Highway 7 west to Vaughan, you will see the vivaNext rapidway construction starting to take shape between Edgeley Boulevard and Bowes Road.  Over the last few months, crews have been working to remove signs, test soil and begin utility relocation to prepare for heavier construction.  Throughout the fall and winter, hydro, gas and telecommunications installations and relocations will continue in Vaughan.

Preliminary construction activity will also continue in other parts of Vaughan as vivaNext rapidway construction continues along Highway 7 West.   The Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] station will be completed in time with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE].  Vaughan’s VMC station will be the northernmost subway station, connecting to Viva and a variety of other transit services, for a convenient and seamless experience.

In Newmarket, as you drive or walk along Davis Drive, you’ll see that construction is in full swing and the transformation is starting to take shape. The relocation and replacement of underground infrastructure in some segments on the south side of Davis Drive is complete. In those sections, road widening and preliminary paving has started preparing the roadway for future rapidways.

Also in Newmarket, crews are working to re-locate the Historic Union Hotel and its adjoining building to their final foundations this fall. Extensive culvert work at eastern and western creek is underway.  Work continues on the north side of the Keith Bridge.  Once completed all this work will help make your travel along Davis Drive smoother and more efficient, especially if you are on transit!

Over the next few years, future rapidways will be added to the Viva routes to better service customers and make travel times shorter by up to 25%.  We know construction is messy, but the end results are marvelous!