Posts Tagged ‘Yonge St.’

viva la winter!

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Brr, it’s cold out there, or unseasonably warm, depending on the day. You never know what’s in store. Regardless of the weather, our construction crews continue to expand the Viva rapidway system to improve connections in York Region. The winter season lends itself to certain types of work, especially the kind that happens above ground.

shiny, new canopies

Forget the January blahs! It’s been exciting times on the Bathurst & Centre corridor this past month. The first two vivastation canopies were installed at Bathurst/Hwy 7 Station located on the Bathurst connector road, one for each side of the station. There’s nothing like seeing that crane lift the canopy into place!

The elegant, arched glass canopies evoke traditional European transit infrastructure, transforming the everyday experience of transit into a beautiful one. A third canopy is coming this winter to the vivastation on Bathurst at Atkinson Avenue.

Looking to the west, construction of the first vivastation platform is beginning to take shape at what will be Commerce Street Station on Highway 7 West.

On both Highway 7 West and Bathurst & Centre, road widening and construction of storm sewers, retaining walls and culvert work is underway. Winter is also a great time to relocate hydro lines and install new poles, which is getting close to being completed in this area.

signals, check!

Our Yonge Street projects are not as far along, and the underground utility work they need to do is limited during cold weather. Crews have made some progress on installing underground duct banks and gas mains in Richmond Hill. Traffic signal work, a good above-ground winter activity, and is also underway. In Newmarket, crews are preparing to start work on the east side of Yonge when the weather gets a bit warmer. They’ll be replicating the road widening that was performed on the west side last year.

planning season

Winter is also a great time to make plans, large and small. We’re working together with the TTC on design and engineering for the biggest plan of all – the Yonge Subway Extension. Also, our staff and contractors are carefully planning spring construction schedules for the Viva rapidway projects, coordinating in advance with stakeholders, and procuring contractors for other projects.

Come spring, our crews will be raring to go, full steam ahead. If you’d like to keep on top of what’s going on in your community, we invite you to sign up for updates.

what’s gravity & slope got to do with it?

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

While we’re building the rapidway projects, it’s not unusual for us to be talking a lot about retaining walls. If you’ve ever wondered why so much of our work seems to involve retaining walls, the answer can be summed up in two words: gravity and slope.

Simply put, retaining walls prevent soil from sliding down a slope. If a slope is very gradual as you might see on a lawn or wide flowerbed, for the most part the soil and earth pretty much stays put. But where there is a slope over a short distance that creates even a difference in grade, the force of gravity will make the soil slide downwards.

stopping soil slippage

The steeper the slope, the more likely it is that the soil will slide. If you have a lawn that’s even a few centimetres higher than an adjacent driveway or sidewalk, you’ll know that without some kind of edging, eventually the dirt will flow down onto the pavement.

Retaining walls are like edging; they’re structures that keep the soil in place where grades need to change within a short distance. And retaining walls can be short or high. For example, a curb is essentially a very short retaining wall.

where retaining walls fit in on the rapidway

In many stretches along our rapidway construction zones, the adjacent land is either higher or lower than the roadway – in some cases the difference is only a few centimetres, in others it’s a metre or more.

Because we’re widening the road, that difference in grade level now has to be made up over a shorter horizontal distance, making the slope steeper than it was before. In areas where the resulting grade difference between the road and the land slope is very steep, a retaining wall is needed to keep the soil in place.

where design is king

Some of our retaining walls are essentially high curbs; others are high structures requiring handrails and complex foundations.

Every one of our rapidway segments has a significant number of retaining walls, each requiring its own design, approvals and construction process. In all cases, retaining wall construction takes place once utilities have been moved out of the way, and needs to be finished before road widening can be started.

With so many retaining walls forming part of the new streetscape, design considerations are of major importance. A lot of effort goes into ensuring that the new retaining walls contribute to the aesthetics of the streetscape as well as be functional.

Different materials and finishes are used for different walls, from pre-formed wall blocks similar to what you’d use in your own garden, to poured concrete with decorative exterior designs.  Design approaches vary depending on how high the wall is, what kind of foundation it requires, and what it is adjacent to. And if the wall or adjacent slope is especially steep and the wall is next to a sidewalk, it will also get a specially designed handrail.

So the next time you see a bulletin advising about retaining wall work, think of gravity and slopes, and you’ll know that’s why we’re building these additional structures.

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

#MyYongeStreet Selfie Contest

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

#MyYongeStreet Selfie Contest

Get your selfie stick ready, the #MyYongeStreet selfie contest launches on Monday, August 14!

We’ve partnered with the Town of Newmarket and the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce to bring the summer of selfies to Yonge Street. Enter for a chance to win weekly prizes or one of three grand prize shopping sprees. We’re proud to support the businesses that make Yonge Street a great place to stop, shop and dine.

here’s how it works

Take a selfie with your purchase from a business on Yonge in Newmarket, share the image on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MyYongeStreet, and you’ll be automatically entered into weekly random draws for a chance to win one of three Yonge shopping sprees. You can also submit your image to for a chance to win.

contest dates:

  • Monday, August 14 through to midnight on Sunday, September 3, 2017

it’s easy to enter:

  1. Visit a business within the Yonge Street rapidway construction area in Newmarket [between Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive and Davis Drive].
  2. Take a ‘selfie’ with your purchase in the business on Yonge.
  3. Post your selfie on Twitter or Instagram, or email to, using the hashtag #MyYongeStreet.


  • Each week, three lucky winners will receive $100 to be spent in the store where the winning selfie was taken.
  • There will be three grand prize draws for Yonge Street Shopping Sprees valued at $1000, $750 or $500.

To learn more about the contest, visit

Yonge Subway Extension moving forward

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

Yonge Subway Extension moving forward

Recently, the Government of Canada announced more than $36 million in federal funding to support the planning and preliminary engineering of the proposed 7.4 km extension of the existing Yonge Subway line into York Region.

This is a positive announcement for York Region and for the entire GTA, because it allows this critical project to move one step closer.
number one transit priority

Yonge Subway Extension continues to be the top transit priority of York Regional Council, the Region’s nine municipal governments and many of the Region’s business organizations. It’s part of the Metrolinx Next Wave projects and the Government of Ontario committed $55 million to the project last year for design work.
2,500 reasons to move forward

Today, this segment of Yonge Street requires 2,500 bus trips a day to accommodate the current ridership. If the subway is extended, really all of these buses would no longer be needed, significantly reducing traffic congestion and eliminating over 28 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per workday.
good for business

The Region is Canada’s fastest-growing large municipality, home to Canada’s high tech capital and two of the GTA’s four Employment Megazones – Highway 404/Highway 407, and Highway 400/Highway 7.

One of Ontario’s largest business communities, the Region has over 50,000 businesses and almost 600,000 jobs, with an average of 13,000 new jobs every year. Over the last five years, York Region’s workforce has grown at an average annual rate of 3.1%, surpassing growth rates in the nation, province and GTA.
The Yonge Subway Extension will move two riders every second of the day, on average making it easier for everyone to get where they need to go. It’s exciting to see this project – the GTA’s missing link – moving forward!

a year on Yonge

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

a year on Yonge

‘Tis the season when we sit back and reflect on the year which has passed and prepare for the year ahead.

2016 was a big year for utility work on Yonge Street in both Newmarket and Richmond Hill. Gas and telecommunications installations were completed in Newmarket and water main and gas work made significant progress in Richmond Hill.

Through all of the construction barrels, mud, noise and mess on Yonge Street, we took pictures every step of the way and put together a video which captures the progress of rapidway construction in both Newmarket and Richmond Hill.

It is amazing to look back and remember all that can be achieved in just one short year. We look forward to another productive year in 2017!

next stop… Yonge! the sky is the limit!

Friday, December 16th, 2016

YouTube video: next stop... Yonge! Colouring Contest

What do you get when you give imaginative minds a box of pencil crayons, paper and creative license to draw their vision of the future of transit? Some pretty amazing masterpieces!

This fall we teamed up with the Town of Newmarket’s Recreation and Culture Department along with the Newmarket Public Library to give kids between the ages of 6-12 a challenge. We wanted to see their vision of what transit on Yonge Street will look like in the future. We received many colourful masterpieces brought to life as part of our Next Stop….Yonge! Colouring Contest.

Check out our latest video for a glimpse of the amazing entries we received. We’re sure you’ll agree that selecting our winners was no easy task. Congratulations to Avery [age 6-8], Sienna [age 9 and 10] and Olga [age 11 and 12]! Visit the contest page to see all the artwork we received.

We can’t wait to see what the future of transit holds for the next generation, the sky is the limit based on their imagination!

To find out what we’ve been up to in your community, check out our community events page.


look way up there!

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

look way up there!

The installation of hydro poles on Yonge in Newmarket is a major milestone for the bus rapidway project. By the end of construction, about 100 new hydro poles, most of which stand at 100 feet tall, will line the corridor from Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive to Davis Drive. Installing these gigantic poles is no small feat, because each one weighs 20,000 pounds. To do this work safely, traffic has to be stopped for a short period of time in all directions while each pole is hoisted high in the air, rotated and then carefully lowered onto concrete foundations.

The pole design has a grey concrete finish and due to their foundations, do not require supportive wires. This helps to reduce the visual impact and contribute to an inviting streetscape once the final boulevards and sidewalks are all in place.

Our latest video goes behind the scenes and gives you an up close look at the hydro pole action. Check it out, we’re sure you’ll agree, there’s nothing small about this part of the Yonge project.

We love hearing from you! So if you have any questions or comments, let us know at To stay up to date on construction, sign up for email updates at


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.


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.


Yonge at heart

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Yonge at heart

At 220 years old, Yonge Street is one of the GTA’s oldest roads, and before it was a road it was likely a trail. Since the beginning, it’s been improved upon and extended. Transit has always been a component of the street, starting with horse-drawn stagecoaches, then streetcars, trains and buses. It’s always been a local road that people walk and bike along, as well as a commuting road for longer distances.

Today, Yonge Street is changing again. We’re building dedicated lanes for transit – rapidways – in Richmond Hill from Highway 7 to 19th/Gamble and in Newmarket from Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive to Davis Drive. It’s part of a big plan for a seamless transit system in York Region and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Yonge Street rapidway will connect to the Highway 7 rapidways leading to Markham and Vaughan, and to the future Spadina Subway Extension and Yonge Subway Extension.

Once complete, Viva service along Yonge will have faster and more reliable travel times, and traffic congestion will be reduced. Modern transit will be on the doorsteps of people living and working along Yonge Street, and the tree-lined sidewalks and bike lanes will make Yonge an even more attractive, vibrant place to walk, shop and ride.  With people at all stages of life using this important street, transit continues to play a key role.

There is a lot of work happening in 2016, and we’re keeping everyone informed. You can find facts and maps on the project page on our website, and we’ll be at some local community events this summer. We’re also on Twitter and Facebook, and we have some project videos on YouTube. If you would like to contact us directly, our Community Liaisons are available to talk. If you sign up for email updates, we’ll let you know when work is happening and you’ll receive announcements, project newsletters, and an invitation to an open house we’ll be hosting later this year.