Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

connecting people to people

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

connecting people to people

Have you ever wondered why the central markets, main streets and train stations of old cities thrive for so many years? Whether it’s the Temple Street Market in Hong Kong, the piazzas of Italy, or Toronto’s Union Station, it’s important to have a place to gather and connect. Somewhere to meet a friend or someone new, wait for the next bus or train, or just people-watch.

We all want to be around people, at least some of the time – Aristotle once said “man is by nature a social animal.” So in York Region, we’re hard at work building attractive places to spend our “connecting” time. A warm area at the station while you wait for Viva [it won’t be long!]… a place to buy coffee at the SmartCentres Place Bus Terminal in Vaughan, tree-lined sidewalks in Newmarket for walking along Davis Drive, or a trellis-covered plaza with benches to meet a friend at Cornell Terminal in Markham.

In this world of internet and mobile devices it’s easy to find ourselves isolated from the general population, so we’re using smart design to make sure everything we build connects people – not just vehicles.

 

matching the heights

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

matching the heights

With the extraordinary maneuvering required to install the roof sections of the VMC BRT station in its location in the centre of Highway 7, you might think the most challenging part of this project has been its incredible glass and steel canopy.

It’s true that installing the canopy of the station required a lot of planning and meticulous engineering. But actually, the coordination of the underground subway station with the BRT station above has been – and still is – a much more complex logistical challenge.

the mechanics of it all

Building the actual physical connections between the two structures was involved but not unduly complicated, similar to any building that has a framed structure on top of a concrete slab. Because the top of the station is wider than the lower part and overhangs at the edges, we couldn’t use rebar dowels, which are the most common construction method. Instead, we used mechanical couplings that enabled us to essentially bolt the top to the bottom.

working together

What makes the project more challenging is that the subway station is being built by the TTC, while the above ground BRT station is being built by vivaNext. With two different owners, and two different contractors, the project demands an intensive degree of coordination and planning.

Joint planning work began long ago, starting with establishing the specific requirements for how the project needed to be built, both below and above ground, and inside and outside the subway station. With the TTC building the subway station up to the surface, and vivaNext building the BRT station from the ground up, the heights of floors and ceilings had to line up perfectly.

top to bottom, inside and out

The vertical elements between the lower and upper floors – including the stairs, escalators and elevators – had to be installed early, with no margin for error. Escalators are very rigid, designed to fit perfectly between floors. And because the rapidway runs right through the station, the top of the escalator, stairs and elevator also had to align precisely with the existing level of Highway 7 outside.

At the same time as the TTC was building the lower levels of the subway station, we were outside building the civil works – the roadway, curbs and gutters – that surround the BRT station. Again, because the rapidway runs through the station, the heights of the underground parts of these elements had to fit with the height of the subway box below.

The BRT station is well on its way and is already a head-turner. In the not-too-distant future, all of this engineering and coordination will make it possible for you to step off the escalator at VMC subway station and easily make your way to the BRT station on Highway 7 and beyond.

See an artist’s rendering of the VMC BRT station once complete.

 

2016 >> all together now!

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

YouTube video: 2016 year in review

Some of the best songs start with just a few notes – maybe the base in a band or the baritones in a choir. Then more and more parts are added, and by the middle of the song everyone is singing or playing different parts, all in harmony. For York Region’s rapid transit system, 2016 was the “middle of the song.”

The prototype station opened in 2011 in Markham, followed by a 10-kilometre rapidway opening in 2013 and 2014 on Highway 7 East. In Richmond Hill, a LEED Silver-certified transit service facility opened in 2015. The Davis Drive rapidway in Newmarket opened for service in 2015, with some final work completed last summer.

Along with finishing Davis Drive, 2016 projects included important utility and prep work along Yonge Street in Newmarket and in Richmond Hill – temporary traffic signals, median work and retaining walls, new hydro poles, water main and gas main replacements. Similar work is being done for the rapidway on Bathurst and Centre Streets in Vaughan, and along Highway 7 west of Highway 400 to Helen Street/Wigwoss Drive.

Highway 7 in Vaughan was a symphony of activity in 2016, with construction wrapping up east of Jane Street to Bowes Road, and work moving ahead quickly on the large rapidway station west of Jane Street that will connect directly to the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension.

Bus terminals are planned in Vaughan and in Markham, and in 2016 those projects worked through the “backstage” steps of design and procurement.

A high note in 2016 was the announcement from the Province of Ontario of $55 million in funding to advance the design and engineering for the Yonge Subway Extension [YSE]. The YSE is York Region’s top transit priority, and we’re committed to working with Metrolinx, TTC and the City of Toronto to move this project forward.

In our plans, 2016 was the year we knew most of our projects would be happening, all at the same time, and it was busy! 2017 will be full of accomplishments too, and there are even more rapid transit projects planned for the future. So we plan to keep working on every detail or “note” to make sure our song – a connected transit system – makes it to the finale!

 

making sparks fly

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

making sparks fly

If you’ve been near the future Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] vivastation recently, you’ve likely seen our welding crews up on man-lifts. And if you’re like most people, you probably didn’t give the welding process much thought – welding is welding, right? Lots of protective clothing, impressive clouds of sparks, and something gets permanently stuck to something else.

Of course, as always with all our engineering and construction activities, there’s so much more going on than meets the eye, and welding on the VMC station is no exception. Here’s the primer on what they’re doing up there, and what some of the complexities are.

Since we’re talking vivaNext, form and function both matter. There are two ways to join two pieces of metal: bolting them together, or welding them. Bolting works well enough, and is the most common method used on bridges, high rises and many other structures. But bolts show, and when the design – as for the VMC station – is for a smooth, seamless architectural look, bolts would be out of place. So welding was chosen as the method to join the pieces of steel throughout the structure.

Welding design takes into account the ultimate strength and performance needed from the structure being joined together, including the loads it will bear, and any flexibility it will require. In the case of the station’s steel superstructure, we are using “full penetration” welding. That means that the two elements being welded together are literally being fused into one piece. Rather than one piece being stuck onto the other, enough heat is applied that the two pieces melt and become one at a molecular level. With this type of welding, it’s not just one surface being glued to another; the joint literally goes through the full depth of the elements being connected. The resulting element is as strong structurally as one solid piece of material.

Once the weld is done, it is reviewed by the welding contractor for certification that the weld meets the required standards including having no impurities or voids. The reviews are generally done visually, although in some cases x-rays will be used. Our general contractor will also do their own quality control, and carry out random spot-checks on many of the welds.

In general, welding can be done until the temperature drops to -18 Celsius. But this specialized kind of welding requires warmer outside temperatures. When temperatures are -5 or below, some weld areas may need to be pre-heated with electrodes.

We’re moving as fast as we can to get the roughly 200 structural welds done, with welders working in shifts, each safely attached by full harnesses to a man-lift while they’re up high. Once the sparks are finished, and because it’s too cold out to paint steel, our last step will be to protect the welded areas with an anti-rust finish.

If you’re in the VMC area, we hope you’ll slow down and look around you. If you do, you’ll be able to admire up close its sleek, architectural lines, and understand all the work that went into making the steel superstructure smooth, strong and beautiful.

 

a connected transit terminal

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

a connected transit terminal

This morning, we marked the beginning of construction for a new YRT bus terminal in Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC]. The news release gives the basic project information, but doesn’t delve into how this terminal will connect in the GTA transit network:

bus

Well, it is a bus terminal. YRT buses will use this terminal, taking customers in and out of York Region’s neighbourhoods and to places farther away like Brampton and northern Toronto. Customers will also be able to walk to the VMC vivastation in the middle of Highway 7, where Viva will take them away on dedicated bus rapid transit lanes. They’ll walk about two minutes above ground, or when the weather is frightful they’ll take the underground path and escalator, elevator and stairs to reach the vivastation.

subway

Customers will take the underground path or walk along landscaped paths outside to the VMC Subway Station entrance just south of the terminal, to access the underground concourse for the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. The subway concourse is actually under the vivastation on Highway 7 – stay tuned for a future blog about this.

walking and cycling

The VMC area is planned as a walkable area with tree-lined sidewalks and places to live, work, shop and take transit. The terminal will meet accessibility standards, and customers will be able to walk or cycle there from any direction.

driving

The terminal is near the intersection of Highway 400 ad Highway 407, so a passenger pick-up and drop off [aka. “kiss ‘n ride”] will be included, encouraging carpooling.

 

So it’s not your typical bus terminal and it’s more than a place to wait for the bus. It’s about connections, and where they’ll take you from here.

 

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.

 

building sustainable communities

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

YouTube video: Building Sustainable Communities

As our towns and cities grow, we need to prepare for the future. Long term planning means that everything we need is all in the right place ahead of time. That means all the major necessities: transportation, utilities, community services and more.

In York Region, we know our population is continuing to grow – by 64% by 2031. Employment is also expected to increase by a whopping 59%, and all this will mean more demands on our roads in general [50% more demand in the morning peak], and especially an increased need for fast, convenient transit.

That’s why rapid transit systems are part of the plans in York Region. Bus Rapid Transit systems are supplying current and future demand with Viva rapidways that offer time savings. On the Highway 7 rapidway in Richmond Hill and Markham, travel times are 42% faster than in mixed traffic.

These improvements to our infrastructure are appreciated. On Davis Drive in Newmarket – the newest rapidway to open – YRT/Viva ridership increased by 39% between February 2016 and February 2015. According to a 2015 survey, 80% of residents living near an opened rapidway believe the project added value to their community.

From Markham to Newmarket to Richmond Hill and Vaughan, it’s about maintaining vibrant, welcoming communities that are prepared for growth and sustainable for many years to come.

 

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

Friday, November 25th, 2016

when urbanism comes to a small city, the impact is big

When urban projects that bring complete streets happen in a big city, they have an impact. A recent big-city example is Simcoe Street in Toronto, which increased pedestrian space and added bike lanes. But to be honest, these projects don’t create the same splash as they do in small cities. In fact, they can get a bit lost in amongst the city as a whole.

When urbanism comes to small or even medium-sized cities, the effect can be huge – even transformative – creating  a new downtown. And the vivaNext and subway project in Vaughan is doing just that.

A recent article, called “New Urbanism’s impact on small-to-midsize cities”, from the American journal Public Square, lays out several remarkable examples of the effects of complete streets’ on smaller centres.

The article describes the positive impacts urban projects have had on a selection of small U.S. cities:

  • Positive impacts in Birmingham, Michigan. Since urbanism came to Birmingham the city now attracts more shoppers and visitors. In fact, in the wake of the urbanism projects, Birmingham has changed its motto to “a walkable community”.
  • Revitalized Albuquerque, New Mexico. Urban changes to land use in Albuquerque have created “a lively mix of entertainment, shopping, office and houses in place of cheap surface parking and underused buildings.”
  • Formerly forlorn Providence, Rhode Island. Before the urbanism project in Providence, the city had a deserted, empty yet heritage-rich downtown. Urbanism has brought the area back to life “with a vengeance”.

Closer to home, the Highway 7 East vivaNext project in Markham has transformed the street from being a highway with gravel shoulders, to being an attractive place to walk, cycle, drive and shop with convenient rapid transit Viva buses along the route. The project has helped set the stage for new development in Markham, such as York University’s new campus.

In Vaughan, people are starting to flock to the new urbanized area known as Vaughan Metropolitan Centre, which is seeing new urban development in Vaughan and includes design elements such as pedestrian-friendly boulevards, wider sidewalks, attractive landscaping, bicycle lanes, upcoming bus rapid transit and the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE]. New developments are coming to this new mobility hub, transforming the area.

Urbanism in York Region is part of the exciting movement for smaller cities to grow right, serving the Region’s communities for generations to come.

For more information on the vivaNext projects, be sure to sign up for email updates and follow us on Twitter. Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com.

 

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 contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up to date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

celebrating the completion of the Davis Drive rapidway

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

YouTube video: timelapse of Davis Drive

Last week, the Honourable Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation; Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO, The Regional Municipality of York; Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO, Metrolinx; the Chairman of the YRRTC Board, Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham and Tony Van Bynen, Mayor of the Town of Newmarket, joined together to celebrate the transformation of Newmarket, with the completion of the bus rapid transit (BRT) rapidway project on Davis Drive.

The Davis Drive rapidway was opened for the new Viva service in November 2015, extending 2.7 kilometres from Yonge Street to Roxborough Road, with service continuing in mixed traffic another 2.3 kilometres with curbside stops and a turn-around at the new park and ride facility at Highway 404. This past spring, crews began work on the finishing touches such as planting trees and installing the last sections of sidewalk.

Rapid transit along Davis Drive promotes growth and development, and supports the priorities of the Town of Newmarket’s Strategic Plan, York Region’s Centres and Corridors plan, Metrolinx’s Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and Ontario’s Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

Along with providing a convenient new travel option, the Davis Drive rapidway project helped transform Newmarket with updated utilities, new infrastructure such as a water main and the Keith Bridge, and wider boulevards. These improvements will help support the continued growth and development in Newmarket’s town centre.

The Davis Drive rapidway has been years in the making. We’ve captured the entire transformation on video. Through all the planning, design and construction there’s something special about knowing that you’ve contributed to the future growth and prosperity of entire neighbourhoods, towns and regions by connecting people to the places they work, shop and play.

We would like to sincerely thank the community, businesses and residents that have supported the project from the outset, and endured the disruptions that come with long term construction. Your patience, understanding and feedback have been invaluable. Newmarket now has a rapid transit system we can all be proud of and enjoy for many years to come.