Posts Tagged ‘Yonge St.’

you’re invited to our Yonge Street open houses!

Monday, November 18th, 2013

The next generation of rapid transit is coming to Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket! In both communities, Yonge Street will be widened to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes in the centre of the road, providing fast, reliable, convenient transit, while enhancing the area as an attractive destination for residents, businesses and visitors alike.

In Richmond Hill, the rapidway will extend 6.5 km and include 7 new vivastations from Highway 7 to 19th Avenue/Gamble Road. In Newmarket, dedicated bus rapid transit lanes will run along 2.4 km and include 3 new vivastations from just south of Mulock Drive to Davis Drive.

This project is moving full steam ahead with work beginning in 2014, and we want you to talk about it with us at our open houses this week! This is your chance to look at information boards and maps, and talk to vivaNext staff about what you can expect during the construction season ahead. You will also learn how a rapidway works and discuss the benefits it will bring to the community.

The same information will be available at both open houses. We hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, you can subscribe online to receive construction updates and view all of the materials on our website after the meeting.

You’re invited!
Richmond Hill
When: Tuesday, November 19, 4-8 p.m.
Where: Richmond Hill Presbyterian Church
10066 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill

When: Wednesday, November 20, 4-8 p.m.
Where: Ray Twinney Recreation Complex
100 Eagle Street West, Newmarket

Learn more about the Yonge street rapidways ahead of the open houses by reading our Yonge Street project newsletter, and as always, feel free to contact us with any questions you might have at


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.

this is just the beginning

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Over the next three years, the vivaNext system is really going to be taking shape, with rapidways on Highway 7 and Davis Drive opening for service, and the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] welcoming its first passengers.  But these new transit options are only the beginning of expanding vivaNext network that’s being built for York Region commuters over the next few years.

Funding for the next priority series of rapidways is already lined up, and we hope to be confirming funding soon for a number of other high priority projects.  Here’s the rundown on what’s planned, and how your transit choices are going to be widened over the next few years as vivaNext continues to expand.

Rapidway projects are being built in the order that will create the most connectivity for the greatest number of people and get you past the worst traffic congestion.  Check out the map to see how the phases are rolling out.

The segments that are coloured pink on the map are what we’re currently building and include the rapidway on the East part of Highway 7, from Yonge Street to Warden Avenue, and the rapidway in Newmarket along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Highway 404.

In the pink project bundle, we’re in the preliminary construction stages for a 36 km stretch of rapidway on Highway 7 West including a station at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC].  This station and rapidway will be opening in time to connect viva passengers to the Spadina Subway Extension when it opens for service in 2016.

The blue projects run north on Yonge Street. We’re currently in the procurement phase for the first stage of two rapidway segments between Richmond Hill and Newmarket.  One stretch will whisk passengers north from the Richmond Hill Centre up to 19th Ave / Gamble.  The other stretch starts at Mulock Drive in Newmarket, and will connect to the new rapidway along Davis Drive.  Construction of these rapidways is expected to be completed in 2017.

But that’s not all – look at the orange segments on the map.  These segments are also all designed and funding is committed, with planning well underway for construction to start in 2015.  Orange projects include two rapidway segments on Highway 7 West, which will extend on either side of the VMC rapidway. When it’s complete in 2018 this whole section will run over 15 km from Helen to Yonge Street. Another orange project will extend the Highway 7 East rapidway from the existing Warden Station on Enterprise Boulevard, to Unionville GO Station.

Other projects that will eventually create a full network across the Region and connecting to other transit systems are grey on the map. Since we don’t have funding secured for all of them yet we can’t confirm the actual timing.

Of these unfunded segments, two are the top priority.  The first priority is the Yonge North Subway Extension, which will provide a critical link for passengers transferring between the vivaNext system and the TTC.  Without this connection, vivaNext is missing a critical link that will really make our system a key part of the larger Greater Toronto transit network.

Another key priority is a rapidway along Major Mackenzie Drive, which would provide a major transit artery for all the growth taking place in that area.  The Major Mackenzie rapidway would provide passengers with connections to the TYSSE, GO lines in both the east and west, and the viva Highway 7 rapidway in both the east and west.

Imagine how this wonderful rapid transit network would make your life easier?  We are working hard to bring it to life, so that everyone in York Region will have the choice to leave their car at home and hop on board viva for a fast, reliable and comfortable ride, no matter where they want to go.


Your Community Liaisons

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

You might recognize Nimisha Raja, Carrie Slattery or Michelle Dudzik, our community liaisons from Markham, Newmarket and Vaughan/Richmond Hill respectively, from our website or the construction bulletins you’ve signed up for or you may have met them at a vivaNext event.

But, we also have a new face joining forces with our three existing liaisons –  Tamas Hertel, the Community Liaison Specialist on Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket. Over the past four months he has been quite busy.  Tamas has been making contact with businesses and residents along Yonge Street as preparation for future rapidway construction.

They are all readily available to answer any questions or assist you with everything related to the vivaNext project. You name it, whether you’re a property owner, business operator, tenant, special interest group, or any other interested stakeholder in York Region along the viva rapidway corridors, they are happy to hear from you.

All four of our Community Liaisons spend a lot of time out in the community, making presentations and answering questions about construction schedules and the projects in general. And with project information centres open in both Newmarket and Vaughan, you have more opportunity to stop by and meet your Liaison – check for the hours here.

We hope that our website, Facebook page, or construction bulletins continue to help you find answers to your questions. But if you would rather speak to someone, or you’re wondering about your specific property, Nimisha, Michelle, Carrie or Tamas are available and happy to talk to you.

Nimisha Raja
Community Liaison Specialist
Telephone: 905-886-6767 Ext. 1023
Cell phone: 416-712-8938

Michelle Dudzik
Community Liaison Specialist
Telephone: 905-886-6767 Ext. 1096
Cell phone: 905-716-7663

Carrie Slattery
Tel: 905.886.6767 Ext. 1129
Cell: 289.716.0091

Yonge Street, Richmond Hill and Newmarket:
Tamas Hertel
Tel: 905.886.6767 Ext. 71357
Cell: 905.505.1430

The Growth Plan

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

York Region is growing and vivaNext is the plan to bring the next generation of rapid transit to service that growth. Funding has been granted for several projects within the plan, including bus rapid transit [BRT], a subway, a bus maintenance facility and bus terminals. But where does that plan start? In general, it starts with vision, professional expertise, time, money and a commitment to stick to the plan.

But to be more specific, like all really important initiatives, the starting point for a successful transit program is doing in-depth planning to assess the Region’s population trends, long-term growth forecasts, transportation and development patterns, and economic development goals.

The overall need for rapid transit and the specific projects that together make up vivaNext were first identified in the Region’s Transportation Master Plan, then thoroughly evaluated through a series of Environmental Assessments.

Consultations with approval agencies, such as conservation authorities and local heritage committees, as well as the broader community, including employers, ratepayer groups and chambers of commerce, also provided important input.

This multi-year planning process has involved many levels of professional expertise within and affiliated with York Region and our local municipalities, and is proof of our communities’ long-range stewardship to meet our future needs.

Once the planning is complete then the work of building the transit network begins. Work that requires a logical and disciplined approach, to identify which pieces need to be built first, forming the network’s backbone, and which components can come later. Construction also has to be carefully staged, to minimize the disruption to communities, businesses and travelers.

That logical progression has informed how we’re staging the construction of vivaNext, with the added complexity of planning for the greatest amount of connectivity between our network and the larger GTA transit network as it expands.

Our overall priority is to improve the transit network at every step, so that we all can benefit right away from having more transit choices and a welcoming streetscape.

All currently funded segments will be completed by the end of 2018. But that won’t be the end  – with vivaNext’s established success in delivering projects as planned, we hope to obtain new funding to complete the remaining segments of the network, including additional rapidway segments and the extension of the Yonge Subway to Highway 7.

Snow day at vivaNext

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Snow day at vivaNext

A glance outside our windows tells us it’s a snow day in York Region. Our construction sites are blanketed in snow, but even though we’re inside, we have plenty to do.

Our contractors are hard at work rescheduling construction that was planned for today. Like a game of dominoes, each change affects another. If the work planned for today needs to be completed before we start the next task, then we’ll be busy reassigning crews and making sure that the upcoming construction falls back in line with the overall project schedule.

VivaNext staff who aren’t outside on construction sites support the construction behind the scenes with planning, design and communications. Before construction begins on a project, we plan how the project will look and function, and we also refine the design of everything from the location of each vivastation to the types of trees we’ll plant. Sometimes there’s coordination to be done with local municipalities or private companies, so we work with everyone to ensure the project goes smoothly once construction gets started.

All of our projects are at different stages of development, and so we have staff working on different parts of each project. The Highway 7 East rapidway is in its final year of construction, whereas Davis Drive in Newmarket is about to start road widening this summer. Highway 7 West is just getting started with construction in Vaughan, and the Yonge Street rapidway is beginning with surveys and utility work. The Spadina Subway Extension from Downsview Station to Highway 7 in Vaughan continues, with tunneling beginning soon in Vaughan.

We’re also busy planning open houses for a few of our projects this spring and once dates are confirmed, we’ll be letting everyone know. If you have time on this snowy weekend, take a moment to sign up for email updates to find out about open houses, and construction underway in your area.


Looking back on 2012…and forward to 2013

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Wow – what progress has been made in the past year on our rapidway projects! Just a few years ago we were in the planning and pre-construction stages for each of our projects. It’s remarkable to see the plans taking shape, construction underway and truly visible changes happening.

On Highway 7 East between Bayview and Highway 404, much of the heavy road work and vivastation construction was completed in 2012. We have some paving to do in the spring, along with finishing work on sidewalks and stations. This stretch of Highway 7 shows the layout of dedicated transit lanes and vivastations and how it will all work. Once the finishing work and landscaping is done, we’ll really be able to see the transformation of Highway 7. East of Highway 404 to Warden, the last few months have seen huge changes, including road widening and prep work for the centre-lane vivastations leading to Warden Station – our fully built vivastation that’s been in service since 2011. In 2013, we’re planning to have the finishing work complete so we can put the rapidway to use between Bayview and Highway 404. East of Highway 404, vivastations will be popping up all year, with finishing work underway in 2014.

Davis Drive in Newmarket is starting to show big changes. Utility work continues, hydro poles were moved and replaced earlier this year, and culvert work is underway to the east of the hospital. Near The Tannery, traffic is now driving on the new south side of the Keith Bridge, and pedestrians can run their hands along the new bridge railing – a nod to the history of this area. In 2013, construction will continue, as crews build a new north side of the Keith Bridge, and begin to widen Davis Drive.

In 2012, the design/build contract was awarded for rapidway construction on Highway 7 West in Vaughan, from Edgeley Boulevard to Bowes Road. We’ve already started surveying and testing this section of Highway 7, and in 2013, crews will be relocating utilities and preparing for road widening.

A rapidway is on the way for Yonge Street in Richmond Hill [Highway 7 to 19th/Gamble] and Newmarket [Mulock to Davis] too, and we’ll be awarding the contract for that work in 2013. Then we’ll be surveying and testing these sections of Yonge Street, as we plan and schedule the construction work ahead.

We know it’s important to be able to get where you need to go, and that’s why we keep lanes open as much as possible during peak traffic hours. Occasionally, we need to temporarily detour entrances and sidewalks and relocate transit stops, and in these cases we do everything we can to make sure everyone knows.

We look forward to great transformations on York Region’s key roads in 2013. We hope that your holiday season is merry, and that 2013 brings great things to you and yours.

Click here to see our holiday card!


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:

Transit priority measures to get you there faster

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Transit Priority Measures to Get You There Faster

I often talk about the big picture benefits of the vivaNext plan; our rapid transit system will help York Region manage growth through new transit-oriented development; reduced reliance on cars will benefit the environment; greater choice will improve the quality of life for York Region residents. And of course, the main benefit of the vivaNext plan— rapidways will allow people to get around York Region faster than before.

The vivaNext rapidways are going to make a major difference to the timeliness and efficiency of Viva service, but what you may not know is, we took steps prior to Viva’s launch to make the service as fast as was possible. We put various measures into place – collectively called “transit priority measures” – to make it easier for Viva vehicles to get through gridlock. This means that commuters on Viva are already able to cut through traffic congestion faster than people travelling in cars.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way a bus can go faster than a car unless it’s in its own lane.” Allow me to explain.

In general, transit priority measures are strategies that help buses move quickly along their routes. These measures can involve physical improvements to the roadway, with the most obvious example being dedicated lanes through congested areas (like the vivaNext rapidways!). A less dramatic, but still effective approach is that of queue-jumping lanes, which allow buses to move ahead of congested traffic at intersections. We installed queue-jumping lanes for Viva’s first phase.

Another transit priority measure involves legislative steps. Have you ever noticed the big “Yield to Bus” sign on the back of buses? This transit priority measure was added to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act to improve transit flow and make transit service more reliable and efficient. This law actually requires drivers to yield the right-of-way to buses trying to leave bus bays and merge with traffic.

The other key category of transit priority measures involves something called “intelligent transportation systems” which are signal system technologies used to improve transit efficiency. Signal systems are quite complex, but in general, modern signals analyze inputs (e.g. vehicles approaching a signal or crossing buttons being pushed by pedestrians) and decide when the traffic lights should change. Transit priority systems add another important input. A bus will automatically send a message to the traffic signal telling it to change, and the signal will adjust its timing in response, favouring the bus. This is not to say that the bus is guaranteed a green light (such as the case of an emergency vehicle), but rather that the delay to the transit vehicle is slightly reduced compared to normal operation (without the transit signal priority).

Viva vehicles don’t “ask” for priority at every signal; priority is only requested when the Viva vehicle is running behind schedule. Currently, Viva vehicles can ask for a low level of priority when they are one minute off schedule, and more immediate priority when they are three minutes behind schedule. And to provide some context, with light cycles in the Region often lasting about two minutes, missing one light can easily put a bus behind schedule. So signal priority is an important tool that helps keep the system running on time, even during the busiest times of the day.

By combining dedicated transit lanes through the most congested parts of Highway 7, Yonge Street and Davis Drive with other transit priority measures in less crowded stretches, Viva is going to offer you a ride that will be comfortable, convenient, fun—and faster than ever before.

Dale’s summer update

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Dale's Summer Update

Whew! What a busy few months we’ve had here at the vivaNext headquarters!  No doubt a lot of people have been enjoying this great summer weather and taking a bit of a break… but for those of us here, it’s been full steam ahead.  Since we announced the news this past May that Metrolinx approved a revised capital funding schedule for the vivaNext rapidways, our office has been a hive of activity! Okay, I took a week off as well to enjoy this summer weather.

But here’s an exclusive peek behind the scenes of what’s happening with vivaNext projects.

Although it’s not a typical rapidway station, our new stop currently under construction at Enterprise and Warden in Markham will be the first place you’ll be able to try out our new, comfortably designed vivastation.  The concrete foundations are currently being put in for the station, and sometime in early fall we expect to receive the glass canopy from the fabricators.  After all the work that went into designing it, we can’t wait to see the vivastation in person!  We’ll keep you updated on the delivery dates and let you know more about how you can see it too!

Our crews are out and about along Davis Drive in Newmarket, with most work presently focused on pre-construction activities in preparation for the road widening.  We’ve been taking down some existing buildings, and working closely with Habitat for Humanity York Region and other organizations to ensure that every last piece of building material that can be reused or recycled is diverted from landfill.  At least 85% of materials will be diverted – we are really proud of that. Even shrubs, plants and trees have been transplanted to new locations within Newmarket, including some churches and a public school.

Our engineers, architects and other experts are working hard on the preliminary engineering for the rapidways up Yonge Street and along Highway 7. Preliminary engineering is the early design stage of an infrastructure project, and it involves numerous hours of discussion and planning for options on things you may never think about when you drive down a street; things like median width, lightpole design and surface treatments.  Every step of their work is carried out in conjunction with a number of other partners, including The Regional Municipality of York and each of the municipalities, as well as other local groups. The amount of painstaking, detailed work that goes into designing a rapidway is just incredible – in a separate blog, I’ll tell you more about the processes, the challenges and introduce you to some of our experts.

We are also spending a lot of time working with our colleagues at the TTC on plans to connect the Spadina Subway extension to the vivaNext transit hub at Highway 7 in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.  Construction of a six-lane bridge, access roads, traffic signals, utility relocation and the realignment of a portion of Black Creek is now underway so that construction can start on the Highway 407 Station. This work is anticipated to be complete by spring 2011. Public open houses in July showcased the station design finishes and public artwork for the Sheppard West and Highway 407 Stations. More open houses will soon be held, so that the public can view the four remaining station designs. I hope to tell you more exciting details about the design ideas we’re working on in the near future.

Another key task that represents a huge amount of our efforts is the ongoing Environmental Assessment process – and rightly so: ensuring that our projects don’t negatively affect the environment, either natural or human, is a critical priority for this project.  Each rapidway segment has its own process and requirements – in fact, there’s so much to describe, I’m going to save it for another time!

During the summer we also participated in some fundraising events for United Way, attended several community events and participated in some local industry workshops.

So that was a brief summary of what we’ve been up to! We hope you’re enjoying the summer sunshine, and all of the great things there are to do in York Region!