Posts Tagged ‘tunnel boring’

spring is in the air

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

John Steinbeck – “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Such words have never been truer than this past winter.  The Greater Toronto Area recorded the coldest winter in 20 years; there have been at least 10 days of temperature that dipped below -20 C, which hasn’t happened in seven years and this has been the longest winter on record in over 100 years! With the official arrival of spring, vivaNext is preparing to ramp up our construction and road work.

Last year, we had some great milestones with the opening of 3.9 kilometres of rapidway on Highway 7 from Bayview Avenue to Highway 404. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] project celebrated a major milestone at the end of last year, with the tunnel boring machines [TBMs] “Yorkie” and “Torkie” finished their tunneling journey north to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] station. Ongoing utility relocation on Highway 7 West, as well as CN Bridge work.  On Davis Drive, nearly all retaining walls have been constructed, the eastern creek culvert has been replaced and extended, and the majority of hydro poles have been relocated. Road widening and base-layer paving has started, while reconstruction of Keith Bridge and the extension of the western creek bridge on the north side continue.

Building on the progress and advancing the BRT project, we’ll continue to relocate utilities, construct retaining walls, widen roads and pave along the different corridors, not to mention finishing the new viva stations on Highway 7 in Markham.  With the longer days and bright sunshine, comes a lot more activity in the construction zones so please drive carefully and be alert to workers in the area. We know construction can be daunting and we thank you for your patience and understanding. Please drive with care and give yourself extra time to get to your destination safely.

To find out what is happening this spring, follow us on Twitter and like us on 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

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.


Spadina Subway: it’s about connections

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Map of the extension to the Spadina Subway extension. Inset: future design of Vaughan Metropolitan Centre

Is it possible to live or work in northwest Toronto, western York Region or east side of Peel, and not know about the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension? Although you might know that a subway extension is planned, you might not know the details about this huge subway development project.

The extension to the University-Spadina TTC subway line from the current Downsview Station north to Highway 7 in Vaughan will be big news to anyone living or working along its route. A connection from Downsview Station to the Wilson Yard TTC storage and maintenance facility has already been built, and four Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) have been manufactured in Canada for this project. Each TBM took several months to build, and three weeks – 21 truckloads of parts – to deliver to its launch location. This spring the parts of the four TBMs will be lowered into their launch shafts at Sheppard West Station and Steeles West Station, and assembled in launch position. In the first of several tunnel drives, the TBMs at Sheppard West will bore northward to Finch West Station, and the TBMs at Steeles West will bore southward to York University Station. Each machine will bore at a rate of about 15 metres per day, and they’re multi-talented machines, excavating in front and placing tunnel reinforcements behind them. When they reach their destinations they’ll be removed from the ground and relocated to new launch locations for the next tunnel drive. The tunnelling is expected to take about two years, with the entire project, including stations, scheduled to be complete and in service by late 2015.

Highway 407 Station and the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will be the first subway stations in York Region. Vaughan Metropolitan Centre will be built at Millway Avenue along the Highway 7 West rapidways, and will feature retail space, a domed roof with skylights positioned to reflect light to platform level, and pedestrian and transit-oriented development.

We talk about rapidways all the time, but really we’re developing a rapid transit network – a system to move people within our region and connect us to neighbouring transit networks. Subway extensions create a vital connection in the GTHA transit network, and will bring new life to communities near subway stations, as people gather in these areas to live, work, shop and play.

If you’re interested in more details about subway extensions, be sure to visit some of these links:

There is light at the end of the Steeles West subway tunnel!

Friday, November 20th, 2009
An artist rendering of the Steeles West subway station.

An artist rendering of the Steeles West subway station.

Each of the six subway stations that will be built along the Spadina subway extension – a key part of the vivaNext plan – will have a unique design.

Above ground, the most striking feature of the Steeles West Station conceptual design is its very distinctive and futuristic profile. It looks like something right out of ‘The Jetsons’. Below ground, a central light cone will bring daylight all the way down to the platform levels – a solution that’s both illuminating and eco-friendly.

The Steeles West subway station will also feature a commuter parking lot with 1,900 parking spaces plus two bus terminals, including one for YRT and Viva.

Planned service frequency from Downsview Station to Steeles West Station is every two minutes, and from Steeles West Station to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre Station, every five minutes.

Big step toward starting construction on the Spadina subway extension

Thursday, August 13th, 2009
Chair Fisch and the other dignitaries pose for cameras in front of a scale model of a tunnel boring machine.

Chair Fisch and the other dignitaries pose for cameras in front of a scale model of a tunnel boring machine.

Lovat, an Ontario-based company that makes tunnel boring equipment, has been awarded a $58-million contract to build four machines that will be used in the construction of the Spadina subway extension.

The announcement was made last Friday, August 7, at the Lovat plant by Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley, joined by MP Bob Dechert, York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch, TTC Chair Adam Giambrone and Lovat President Dick Cooper. Not only does this mean the creation of some 200 jobs in the GTA and a boost to the economy, it signals continued progress on the project as it’s scheduled to open in 2015.

Prior to the announcement, I had the pleasure of joining the group for a bit of a tour of Lovat. We met at one end of their Mississauga plant and walked through to the other end while learning about what’s involved in making tunnel boring equipment. Cameras and reporters were waiting at the end of the tour to hear each dignitary deliver a short speech about the announcement.

It was awe-inspiring to watch the dignitaries being interviewed in front of a massive tunnel boring machine. They’re HUGE. Just take a look at the picture below to see how big they are compared to the people near them.

Lovat has built similar and even larger machines for projects all around the world, from Algeria to Venezuela. “We are pleased to be a part of this significant mass-transit project, as it not only generates jobs and strengthens infrastructure locally, but also highlights Canada’s technological capabilities on a global scale,” said Cooper.

The first two machines are expected to be delivered in the fall of 2010, with tunnel boring to begin shortly after.

York Regional Chairman Bill Fisch speaks to the audience and TV cameras in front of an actual tunnel boring machine last Friday.

York Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch speaks to the audience and TV cameras in front of an actual tunnel boring machine last Friday.

Yonge subway extension backed by most residents

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

The Ministry of the Environment recently approved the Environmental Project Report for the Yonge subway extension. We recently conducted a survey* to see how many people in York Region support a subway extension to Langstaff/Richmond Hill Centre at Highway 7 and Yonge. Eighty-nine per cent of residents said that they support the extension.

This is very similar to our online poll that shows over 90% of the hundreds of people who have responded thus far support the subway extension. These survey results reaffirm that we are improving rapid transit routes where people need them.

Are you one of these people who support the Yonge subway extension? Or do you think a subway line would be better built elsewhere? Tell us what you think.

*Survey deemed accurate to within 5 percentage points

Yonge subway extension closer to reality

Friday, May 8th, 2009
What a subway will look like heading to Richmond Hill station.

What a subway will look like heading to Richmond Hill station.

We did it. Thanks to your help throughout our extensive public consultation process, we received approval from the Ministry of the Environment for the Yonge subway extension.

This is fantastic news because the extension up Yonge Street will create the backbone for a seamless transit network that will get you to the places you need to go faster and with fewer connections.

The approval from the Ministry means that the project is in a strong position to receive funding and soon after that happens, shovels can hit the ground. The plans are calling for a 6.8 km extension that will include six new stations and finish at the Langstaff/Richmond Hill Centre at Highway 7.

To put together the report, we engaged the public in many ways, including town hall meetings that hundreds of people attended and gave excellent feedback. It was that feedback that allowed us to address many community concerns and in the end, form a solid report.

Our project was the first one to undergo the new six-month process set up by the Ontario government so construction on transit projects could start as soon as possible.

We feel fortunate to have the first project approved under the new streamlined process and we’re excited because this is another step toward making commuting easier for anyone living or travelling in York Region.

Once funding is secured, we will continue to work with you regarding the design details, especially the bridge crossing and parking lot.

Soon this picture will be a reality. It’s time to start imagining a subway with the word “Richmond Hill” on it.

New online stop

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

I recently created this blog to serve as an informal way to give you a behind-the-scenes look and engage in the online conversation about vivaNext.

But you may not know that we also just launched a new website that is super sleek and easier to navigate.

I’m extremely proud of our former website, in fact it even won a Webby award, the leading international award honouring excellence on the Internet. But times change and technology evolves allowing us to share so much more information with you on our new website in a more creative way.

It’ll include the latest information on subway and rapidway progress, a section on how to get involved and details on who to contact with questions.

One of the coolest features is what we are calling a peak behind the construction wall. Here you can see what tunnel boring and station building looks like. We’ll also showcase our videos including time-lapse animation that will show you what the rapidways will look like and how they’ll fit into your community.

And of course, just like the previous website, there will be a game because we are always looking for ways to have fun.

Go ahead, tour our new online stop and let me know what you think.