Archive for the ‘Stations’ Category

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.

 

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.

 

working day and night

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

Those living and working in York Region know firsthand about dealing with construction. During prime construction season, you typically see worksites on a number of Regional roads. We need these road improvements to ensure our fast-growing communities are connected by a strong transportation system.

So how do we get these projects done when people still need to use the roads?

VivaNext rapid transit projects are carefully planned to manage construction and maintain traffic flow. There is a balance on every construction project between the need to get work done on schedule, the need to keep traffic moving, and the construction disruption to adjacent homes and businesses.

On occasion, night work is scheduled on busy roads such as Highway 7 or Yonge Street to avoid traffic congestion during the higher-traffic daytime hours. For example, on Yonge Street between Weldrick Road and 16th Avenue, there is up to eight times more traffic during the day than during the overnight hours.

We understand that sitting in traffic can make commutes longer. On the other hand, when work is done at night we know the noise and lights can make it difficult for those living nearby. The project still needs to be completed, so we move forward, trying to strike a balance – with over 99% of the four-year project being done during the day. Work is limited during peak traffic times, and crews work diligently to complete overnight work quickly so that it’s over as soon as possible.

We know that a good night’s sleep is important, and our crews try to minimize the amount of noise and light they create while they’re working overnight.

Day or night, it helps to know what’s coming so you can plan around it. You can sign up for email notices at vivanext.com/subscribe. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

the ballet of building the VMC canopy

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre – Spadina Subway Station

The giant sections of structural steel canopy were installed this fall in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area – right in the middle of Highway 7 West – and it was a ballet of precision.

Having a large structure like this arise in the centre of a roadway is an incredibly unique construction event.

That’s why we made sure we were out on the corridor watching and recording the action to share with all of you.

The largest section lifted was 25,000 lbs – over 11,300 kg! You can read more about this new Vivastation, and check out the video to see how this feat was done.

 

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

form meets function where Viva meets the subway

There’s a lot happening near Highway 7 and Jane Street right now. With the subway extension, bus rapidway, bus terminal, and commercial and residential buildings being built, it’s difficult to distinguish one construction project from the other. In the past week though, one project has become more visible.

In the middle of Highway 7, between Jane Street and the Highway 400 ramps, a huge structure is being built. The VMC-Spadina Subway vivastation will play an important part of this transit-oriented area, connecting Viva customers to the subway below.

The station is supersized with longer and wider platforms, and the roof will cover the entire rapidway. Customers will be able to access the concourse below via elevator or stairs to access the new subway extension or walk a few minutes underground to catch YRT or Züm at a new bus terminal.

A few fun facts about the station:

  • Single canopy is 50m long x 22m wide – bigger than the other vivastations to accommodate more bus and passenger traffic.
  • Steel structure assembled as three roof sections [now installed]; eight ladder sections [the first just arrived]; and 70 smaller infill sections.
  • Uses a combination of aluminum, painted steel, ceramic frit and tinted glass panels – overall, the station will appear light grey with blue and white accents.
  • Up-lighting will illuminate the lattice pattern of steel supports and glass panels on the roof.
  • Real-time bus arrival screens in station waiting areas, and underground at concourse level.
  • Heated and unheated waiting areas on each platform.
  • 100% coverage by security cameras.
  • Windscreens to block the prevailing wind – potential showcases for public art.
  • Hidden rainwater gutters and downspouts to drain water under the roadway.

The steel structure can be seen in the middle of Highway 7, and this will take a couple of months to put into position, and another couple of months of welding. As you’ll soon see, this station will make the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre area look very different. And once it opens in 2018, will connect everyone to where they need to go.

 

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

We’ve heard your questions about vivastation locations along Centre and Bathurst Streets, so here’s everything you need to know…

The Phase 2 rapidway project will include 10 new vivastations, with five of them along the current Viva bus route on Bathurst and Centre Streets. This is already one of York Region’s busiest Viva routes, so stops were planned where people will want to get on and off Viva.

From west to east, this is where the stations will be:

  • Centre Street at Dufferin Street.
  • Centre just east of Carl Tennen Street & Vaughan Boulevard.
  • Centre at North Promenade & Disera Drive.
  • Bathurst Street at New Westminster Drive.
  • On the connector road between Bathurst and Yonge Street.

As with all rapid transit in York Region, we plan stations to be walking distance from shopping, important services, and places to live and work. When it’s all done, the Centre and Bathurst area will have updated utilities and traffic signals, tree-lined streets and bike lanes. Preconstruction starts this year, including utility locations and relocations, and watermain upgrades.

For more information about the project, visit our project page. And if you have any other questions, feel free to comment or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

vivastations >> built for comfort and safety

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

vivastation safety and comfort

We’ve taken every possible step to make the vivastations on the new Davis Drive rapidway feel like a safe haven, especially considering the stations are located in the middle of a busy roadway.

While you wait for transit, you can take comfort in the fact that you are well protected from the elements and adjacent traffic, and able to get help easily if you need it.

safety starts with design

The new vivastations include a variety of safety features, and are designed with transparency and good lighting in mind – two key principles of CPTED [Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design]. Stations have a concrete barrier wall along the traffic side, and a steel and glass guardrail beyond the glass canopy. The glass is impact-resistant with an interior film that prevents shattering [similar to a windshield] and provides UV sun protection.

call buttons are crucial

In the case of an emergency, an Emergency Call Button is clearly marked inside the glass enclosure. Its speaker provides immediate two-way contact between the caller and YRT operators. Call audio is recorded and time-stamped, as is the video automatically captured by the closest of three security cameras when the button is pushed. When the button is pushed, blue strobe lights on the Variable Message Sign [VMS] and the button are triggered to indicate to passing emergency services that assistance is needed, and transit staff will dispatch emergency services if needed.

safety is personal too

As much as we’ve designed vivastations to be safe, safety is also in the hands of those driving and walking on Davis Drive. While many drivers are now accustomed to making U-turns, but for others, it’s new. Drivers and pedestrians should both stay alert, and keep an eye out for one another, especially in intersections – and especially in fall and winter when daylight is in short supply.

two-stage crossings have rest spots

Because intersections were widened, a two-stage crossing at crosswalks is recommended for pedestrians. There are waiting areas in the middle of the crosswalk, where pedestrians can press the “walk” button and wait for the next signal.

Safety features are one of those things that are only top of mind when they’re needed. We hope that you always keep them in mind. That way you can rest assured that your rapidway trip will be a safe haven.

testing, testing, 1-2-3

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Testing for the new rapidway along Davis Drive

Have you recently travelled along Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Roxborough? It’s looking great! We’re very close to making the new bus rapid transit services available to you. What lies ahead is testing.

The testing stage – known in the construction world as commissioning – is critically important to ensure that all parts of the rapidway are ready for active service.

Here’s what’s involved

commissioning

In the case of vivaNext, commissioning involves reviewing every part of the rapidway system, including structural components and the overall communications network, to ensure that they are working the way that we’ve designed them to.

Intelligent Transportation Systems [ITS]

ITS is an international transportation-engineering discipline that aims to make all kinds of travel more efficient. You may not be able to see it, but ITS technology is a critical component of the vivaNext rapid transit project.

In general, ITS ensures that traffic corridors are designed as one coordinated system, which includes the physical roadway’s design, lane markings and signs, traffic signal design and timing, and the brains that connect all these pieces. On the vivaNext rapid transit corridors, ITS plays another role too – integrating the rapid transit system into the overall traffic corridor system.

communications network

The communications network includes the fare collection equipment; the station information systems such as variable message signs [VMS], clocks and public address [PA] systems; the passenger security elements such as closed circuit TV systems and emergency call buttons; and the traffic signals at intersections. It also includes the sophisticated Transit Vehicle Detection system, which informs traffic signals when rapid transit vehicles are approaching intersections. Finally, the overall communications network includes the fibre optic network that links all of its components.

testing, testing, testing

Testing starts at the factory, where the fabricator verifies that the equipment works as intended. Each component is then tested again when it’s installed. After this, a series of additional tests are carried out to confirm that the entire system is integrated properly and working together.

The final step involves testing the reliability and function of the system, including simulating actual operation using buses, and staff who act as passengers. This gives the people who will be involved in the future operation, maintenance and service of the rapidway an opportunity to become familiar with it.

Even though you can see construction is coming along, there’s still testing, testing, and more testing to be done before the Davis Drive rapidway opens in December. All this testing is important though; it will ensure that rapid transit on Davis Drive is as safe and efficient as possible.

why stop here?

Friday, March 20th, 2015

why stop here?

Some of the most successful investors will tell you that thinking long-term is the best way to make decisions. That’s also the route transit planners take, and a long-term increase in passengers is the goal for the investment.

Rapid transit routes are also planned with potential growth opportunities in mind. By looking at municipal zoning and ‘big picture’ plans, higher levels of government and planners can see where higher-density residential and commercial development will be located in the future. They look at the area around each proposed station to see if it seems likely to redevelop into higher-density residential and commercial destinations. Key pointers tend to be municipal zoning that allows for multi-story buildings, large lot sizes, and older buildings that are more likely to need rebuilding or refurbishing. Stations are especially considered at junctions where current or future transit lines intersect. The area may already have urban amenities and high population, or in some areas, empty land is zoned for a planned high-density community. It’s not necessarily about what’s there now, it’s about what could be there.

By studying the facts, transit planners can be confident about where transit stops should be placed, and know that as the community evolves in future years, new developments will naturally make it more compact, transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly.

In York Region, the location of rapid transit routes is studied carefully to ensure that as our population continues to grow in the long-term, we’ve invested in a great transit system to support it. The Viva routes were planned with that in mind and now with ridership increasing steadily, rapid transit is moving to one dedicated lane in the centre of the road. With this comes a balanced community that provides vibrant urban centres, faster travel choices, and routes that have more connection points and better serve customers