managing the vivaNext plan

January 2nd, 2014

When I first joined the vivaNext team, it was pretty small since we were still at the early stages of our rapid transit program.  Now, with an overall team of nearly 78 at York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (YRRTC); and many more staff and experts allocated to the projects through the construction contractors, all these people are working on the vivaNext plan which is going flat out, with planning, procurement, design and construction activities underway concurrently.  Here’s the rundown on what we’re doing now, and a preview on some of our other projects you’ll hear more about soon.

The most visible parts of vivaNext – our rapidway construction projects on Highway 7 East and Davis Drive in Newmarket – are definitely a major focus for our team, but they’re only part of what we’ve got going on these days. Moving a major infrastructure project like a rapidway segment forward from the early design stages to the introduction of service requires years of careful planning and oversight, starting with preliminary design and environmental assessments years before construction can start.   The same general work plan is currently being followed for the remainder of the Highway 7 rapidway (opening next year) and along Davis Drive in Newmarket.  Project management for our active construction projects involves a large part of our team, including engineering, property, finance and communications staff.

In addition, we’re in the early stages of pre-construction for the rapidway on either side of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) on Highway 7, with final design work being completed for the VMC station itself, overtop of the TYSSE concourse for the subway.

At an earlier stage, but already demanding dedicated project teams, is the Yonge Street rapidways in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, and the rapidways that will be built along this major commuter line.

And because a rapid transit network needs more than new lanes, stations and streetscaping, we’ve also got a number of dedicated facilities to plan and build, which will provide the future vivaNext system with more capacity for passengers, bus maintenance, and commuter parking.  All of those components are currently under active development, requiring the involvement of project teams with property, design, engineering and financial expertise.  Our currently funded projects add up to a total program value of $3.2 billion, which will see us build 37 km of bus rapidways with 38 stations, an 8.6 km subway extension with six stations, an operations facilities, two bus terminals and multiple park ‘n ride facilities over the next five years in York Region.

Last but definitely not least, lots of activity is underway to secure funding for future segments starting with the extension to the Yonge Subway, which is the missing link needed to fully connect the vivaNext system to the broader GTHA transit network.

Everyone at YRRTC works on multiple projects, which allows us to share our knowledge across the program, identify what’s worked well in the past, and ensure that we build on success.   Collectively we’ve already amassed a lot of expertise, making design and construction refinements to future projects that reflect what we’ve learned so far.

We all work hard, but the enthusiasm we pick up from the community is so motivating, it’s hard to imagine doing anything more satisfying.  We know that with just a few kilometers of rapidway open along the Highway 7 East rapidway, transit travel times have already been reduced and traffic flows improved.  So we’re all looking forward to the major improvements that we’ll all get to enjoy, when the whole system is open in a few years from now.

Stay tuned for regular updates throughout 2014, it promises to be a significant year for transit.

 

happy new years from vivaNext

December 31st, 2013

The New Year brings with it the wonderment and joy of new possibilities, resolutions and change. Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each New Year for at least four millennia. Traditions have varied (and still do today), ranging from forgiving enemies to exchanging gifts, to wishing Happy New Year and making resolutions. Many of us have made resolutions over the years – committing to renew last year’s resolutions, adding a few new ones, and to keep them as long as we can.

Naturally, vivaNext is committed to keeping its resolutions, which include:

  • Continuing our progress on rapidways in Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Markham and Vaughan, and on the Spadina Subway extension as quickly as possible;
  • Creating beautiful urban spaces where people can live, work and play in close proximity to rapid transit, check out Highway 7 between Bayview and the 404 Highway to see the results; and
  • Staying engaged and available to the residents and businesses in our communities.

Have a safe and happy New Year.  We look forward to a productive and successful 2014!

changes in how you contact vivaNext

December 27th, 2013

As of January 4, 2014, the extension numbers will be changing from four to five digits.

Don’t worry it’s not as cumbersome as it sounds, the only difference will be adding a “7” in front of all current four-digit extensions for all internal phone lines.  This change also applies to all York Region services identified below:

  • Court Services
  • Emergency Medical Services (in case of emergency, please dial 911)
  • Family and Children’s Services
  • Housing
  • Long-term Care
  • Economic Development
  • Police Services
  • Public Health
  • Regional roads
  • Social Assistance
  • Solid Waste Management
  • YRT/Viva
  • Water and sewage treatment

 

spending quality time with your loved ones

December 24th, 2013

This holiday season we hope you have the opportunity to gather together, to share, reflect and renew the love and laughter that makes quality time with family and friends precious and meaningful.  York Region has a lot of great sites and events that you can explore on YRT\Viva transit lines over the holidays, from skating at the Markham Civic Centre outdoor rink, First Night Celebration in the Town of Richmond Hill, to the Winter Wonderland at the Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket.

Here at vivaNext, we are also taking this time to rest, relax and rejuvenate so come January we will be ready to jump into work.  The New Year will bring with it the continuation of construction on Davis Drive in Newmarket with road widening, utility relocation and paving.  The Highway 7 transformation in the City of Markham is continuing with utility relocation, boulevard streetscaping and paving. Work will also ramp up on the west side of Highway 7 into The City of Vaughan with retaining wall construction and utility relocations. And on Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, preparation for construction will start to take place.

Until then, please enjoy the season with those near and dear.  See you in the New Year.

as the cold wind blows…

December 19th, 2013

Seems like just yesterday vivaNext was ramping up construction activities at the first sign of warmer temperatures and while the warmer weather was here this year, a lot of progress was made along the vivaNext corridors. We captured our developments and put together a short video to share the progress of the transformation for each corridor.

Building on our successes, we will keep the progress moving even as we wind down for the return of Old Man Winter. Although the weather specialists forecast a cold winter season, our vivaNext construction projects will continue as the snow flies and the cold wind blows.  Here’s a snapshot of what we’re going to be working on this winter along the vivaNext corridors and how we’ll manage to keep construction moving along even when the temperatures plunge.

In Newmarket, crews will continue storm sewer installation, utility relocations and underground ductbank [gathers together and encases telecommunication wires] installation along Davis Drive. The south side of western creek culvert near Niagara Street will be also be widened over the next several months.

In Markham, utility relocations will continue on South Town Centre Boulevard, Cedarland Drive and Warden Avenue. Some construction work will also continue on Highway 7 East in the centre median.

Along the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] corridor, hydro, gas and telecommunications installations and relocations will continue. Work will also begin on the CN Bridge. Preliminary construction activity also continues in Vaughan along Highway 7 West from Helen Street to Edgeley Boulevard and from east of Bowes Road to Yonge Street, including parts of Bathurst Street and Centre Street.

On Yonge Street, surveying, geotechnical testing and utility locates will take place in Richmond Hill and Newmarket. In early 2014, the design-build contract of the Yonge Street rapidway will be awarded. Once the contract is awarded, rapidway construction will begin.

While construction continues outside, inside our contractors are preparing for a busy spring. They are finalizing designs, plans and schedules for next year so when the warm weather returns construction crews can hit the ground running.

To see the progress we’re making over the winter, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also sign up for email notices at vivanext.com to keep you updated on the construction underway in your area.

happy holidays!

December 18th, 2013

Happy holidays! Spending quality time with family shopping, skating or just hanging out, Viva will make it faster and easier to take part in all the holiday fun across York Region. To help you and your family get in the spirit, here’s a fun little game for you to enjoy.

ol’ man winter is here… are you ready?

December 17th, 2013

Yes, it’s that time of year again, winter arrives officially this weekend.  The weather reports are full of white stuff, and the frosty temperatures are here.  Now is the time to ensure you are extra vigilant and aware of your surroundings at intersections, crosswalks and in construction areas as you travel the roads in York Region.

Snow and ice wreak havoc on the traveling public, but disasters are largely preventable.  If poor weather is forecast, plan ahead and leave plenty of time to get to your destination.  Better yet, postpone unnecessary trips until the weather has improved. As always we encourage you to try transit in bad weather days, but if you are driving, keep your vehicle tuned up and be especially aware of your tire condition.  Snow tires are the best bet in the winter months, but regardless of tire type, be sure to check pressures and tread wear regularly.

The bottom line is that winter is a Canadian fact and we can’t change the weather.  All we can do is prepare for it and understand the inherent hazards.

Here are some safety tips to help navigate construction zones in the winter safely:

  • Obey the speed limit – You should be careful to obey the speed limit in construction zones, as many will be lower than normal.
  • Keep on the lookout for construction workers – One of the main reasons that construction zones can be so dangerous is that there are often people working on the side of the road. You will want to be very careful when you drive and try to be aware of any workers.
  • Watch for lane changes – Often in construction zones, the lanes move differently than normal. Especially at night, in bad weather, or when it is difficult to see, pay attention to where your lane goes.
  • Be especially careful if there is no shoulder – A lot of times, construction forces the closure of the shoulder.

Remember to always be aware of road conditions and those who are working in these zones. As you pass through the vivaNext projects, we know that our construction disrupts the life of pedestrians, transit riders and drivers, and we do everything we can to keep that to a minimum.

We hope that as you pass by our construction areas you’ll keep safety in mind!  Travel safe!

social and community responsibility

December 13th, 2013

The holiday season is a time of year where our community calls on all of us to help out just a little bit more and think of those that are in need of some help.

Here at vivaNext, staff are proud to be actively involved with the York Region Children’s Aid Society holiday Heroes program.  The Holiday Heroes program helps by donating new toys, new clothing, new winter outerwear, toiletries, gift cards and food vouchers to the children and families served by the agency.

This year, we have joined together to personally sponsor a family of seven.  Over the past two weeks, staff has been collecting everything from toiletries, toys, educational materials, practical items for teens and tweens – things we sometimes take for granted but that can be luxuries to a youth on a tight budget.

This season there are so many charitable organizations and agencies that are in need of support, be it money, merchandise, food or time. Sometimes the goodwill of the holiday season brings about great things.

At this time of year we would like to call to mind all the volunteers who tirelessly give of themselves to make life that much brighter and happier for those within our communities.  Thank you!

 

tis the season to support your local businesses

December 11th, 2013

It’s that time of year again, holiday decorations adorn windows and doors, festive music fills the air and it seems everyone’s in a rush to go somewhere.  With the holidays fast approaching, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed with what to get that special someone.  Don’t fret the businesses along the vivaNext corridors are here to help you find the perfect gift.

The shops and services on Highway 7 and Davis Drive will take the stress and worry out of your holiday shopping. Your local merchants will help you find that perfect treasure for those nearest and dearest and will help you cross everything off your holiday shopping list. While you’re out and about, take a break from shopping with a stop at one of your favourite restaurants. Why not hop aboard yrt/viva to get you to and from your destinations?

Once you’re done shopping and you’ve checked your list twice, pour a glass of eggnog and congratulate yourself on a job well done!  You got all your shopping done with a little help from your local businesses.

Support your local businesses this holiday season. Your neighbours look forward to seeing you!

 

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getting ready for winter

December 9th, 2013

If you have a property with a garden, you’ll be familiar with the list of things you do every year to get things tidy and safe before it freezes up out there. We face the same kind of to-do list along our construction zones on Highway 7 and Davis Drive, although the key difference is we’ll still be actively working throughout the winter (I’ll tell you more about what we’ve got planned for the winter months in an upcoming post).

But in terms of getting things all tidied up, here’s what you’ll see us doing over the next couple of weeks to get ready for the snow and ice.

Our top priority, as always, is making the construction zones as safe as possible for pedestrians and drivers.  For that reason much of our pre-winter activity involves ensuring that sidewalks and boulevards are free of hazards, and hazards that cannot be removed are carefully fenced off.  In some cases we’re finishing the grading and construction of some boulevards, and in others installing temporary walkways and ramps where work isn’t scheduled to be finished until next year.

Snow fences are being installed behind sidewalks in areas where work is continuing, to help mark the safe route for pedestrians.  And because of ongoing roadwork and other activities, some sidewalks will remain closed.  We’ll make sure there’s a clear route for pedestrians through work zones, although it may require crossing from one side of the street to the other. Look for directional signage to know where it’s safe to walk, and how to access bus stops – for your own safety it’s critical that pedestrians stay out of work zones.

During construction, road and sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the construction contractor within the project areas.  But during the winter, the Region and local municipalities are responsible for ensuring the roads and sidewalks are kept clear. For that reason, another top priority before winter is to ensure every aspect of the construction zones is compatible with the requirements for winter maintenance operations.

This means making sure the snow-clearing equipment can manoeuver through the construction zones, boulevards and platforms.  Our design work and construction staging plans have always had those requirements top of mind, but we walk through the sites with Regional and municipal staff again before winter to identify any little details that might impede their operations.

And to keep traffic moving throughout the winter, we’ll be taking steps to make travel lanes as straight as possible through the construction zones, and ensure markings are clear.

Just like at your home, we like to get everything tidied up and in order before winter, so we’re going to keep working steadily at it until we’re forced to stop by severe winter weather.  Once that happens, we have a long list of other activities we will continue with, so stay tuned.