green space = safe space

April 20th, 2016

green space = safe space

We’ve seen reports that support why having greenery around us can increase prosperity, improve health, and now new research says it makes the surrounding area safer.

It’s not so much the trees and shrubs themselves that keep people safe. Having an attractive space attracts people to spend time in the area – and puts more ‘eyes on the streets.’ And green space that appears cared for lets everyone know that someone owns, uses and maintains it. In the case of streets, it’s a sense of community ownership.

Well-maintained green spaces are thought to give an abstract sense of social order, and according to a community greenery experiment in Youngstown, Ohio, the safety and order extends to the surrounding area. There are all types of crime, and you can’t always predict where it will happen, but the pride of place on display with a nice park or streetscape seems to bring about positive behavior.

It’s exciting to see the trees along the Highway 7 East rapidway growing another season of new leaves, and people out enjoying the spring weather on the new sidewalks. We’re looking forward to planting trees this year on Davis Drive in Newmarket and on Highway 7 West in Vaughan.

So trees aren’t just trees. They, and their team of shrubs and grasses encourage health and wealth, and they fight crime in their spare time.

 

warranty work >> ensuring quality for years to come

April 14th, 2016

warranty work >> ensuring quality for years to come

When you’re building rapidways for generations to enjoy, it’s important to make sure that the end product is what we want.

Everything – from the paving stones on the sidewalk, to the glass in the canopies, to the red asphalt – is tested, inspected and verified by qualified engineers with a keen eye for detail. Anything that doesn’t make the grade is placed on a “deficiencies list” that the builder is responsible to remedy. That’s why you may see occasional construction activity in the first couple of years after infrastructure projects are done.

Project managers of infrastructure projects call this the warranty work phase – an opportunity to catch any issues so that they can be fixed while the infrastructure is still under warranty. It often takes all the seasons in a full year to see how things weather in our climate or perform once in use.

Much like when you buy a new house, it can take one or two years for the foundations to settle, and for you to make note of where the finishes are less than desirable. Then the contractor comes back to fix all the nail pops and cracks in the drywall, fill any gaps in the molding and repaint where necessary. It ensures that you are happy with the work, and you get the most out of your home. Warranty work is the same idea for our facilities, stations and rapidways.

On Davis Drive, we’re starting with the grinding and smoothing out of curbs, fixing paint finishes and filling small cracks, and of course taking note of anything else that needs work.

Whether you’re a regular transit rider, or are considering your first trip on the rapidway, know that we are working hard to provide you with a quality experience and infrastructure that’s built to last.

 

automated vehicles >> will transit drive itself?

April 7th, 2016

automated vehicles >> will transit drive itself?

Lately there’s been a lot of news on the topic of automated vehicles. In February, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US officially stated that an artificial intelligence system [computer] in an automated vehicle can officially be considered a driver. And in at least five global cities, there are driverless buses already on the streets. In aviation, pilots have been relying on auto-pilot for decades when landing and taking off in low visibility, and many people-mover rail systems [such as airport monorails] are automated.

Studies show that, statistically speaking, computers are safer than humans at driving. However, we know that getting from here to there is about more than arriving safely. Comfort is important of course, along with convenience and efficiency or speed. For some, a travel choice is a personal statement – to cycle or walk, to make use of transit, or to drive a certain style of car. Many vehicles already have “driver assistance systems,” with features that brake when an obstacle is detected, and alert the driver when the car in front has moved forward or when the vehicle has left its traffic lane.

So the technology is there, and it’s already being used. The question isn’t whether it will happen, it’s how it will affect how we travel. It will depend on how they’re used – if every individual uses their own automated vehicle, traffic congestion and parking issues will likely remain the same. But if we share vehicles and take transit…our cities and roads could become safer and more efficient.  Interesting topics for discussion and consideration and we continue to follow them with interest.

At vivaNext we’re for mobility – whether this means subway, bus rapid transit, or automated transit in the future, we’re thinking about how York Region’s roads can be prepared and always looking for new and innovative ideas to make improvements.

 

what’s happening in that lane closure?

March 30th, 2016

what happens in a lane closure

Have you ever driven along the construction areas along Highway 7 and wondered why there’s a lane closure beside you? Especially when it looks like there’s not much obvious construction?

Here are some of the reasons a seemingly quiet lane may be closed – and what might be happening nearby.

Work is happening

Widening the road and building the new rapidways can only be done when traffic is moved away, which is why the number one reason for any lane closure is that work is happening within it. Our project is complicated because we are building in the middle of live traffic lanes, so extra precautions are necessary and legislated. Lane closures are required only when there are no other reasonable options.

Space = safety

Typically, we need to close a lane to add a safety buffer around a work area in order to keep crews safe, and to make space for pedestrian detours around the work zone. Construction in a busy thoroughfare means that we need to ensure the safety and convenience of everyone, which means drivers, pedestrians, businesses along the corridor and work crews.

Big machines

For certain types of work, sometimes very large machines are required.  For example, a crane might need extra space around it so crews can access it safely. In some cases, the machine itself needs to be transported on an even larger vehicle, such as a crane being moved on a flatbed. When such a “wide load” is being transported, or positioned for a long period of time, we’d require an additional lane.

Setting up for an operation

To prepare for larger construction operations like paving an intersection, we would need to reduce lanes in advance of the actual paving so crews can set up the work area safely. This can mean reducing the number of lanes gradually in advance of the upcoming work area. This means lots of pillions!

Consistency helps with safety

If a large number of trucks need to drive back and forth along a lane closure [perhaps to take away excavated materials] over several weeks or months, a lane may be closed for the duration so the number of traffic lanes don’t need to fluctuate back and forth between 3 lanes, 2 lanes, 1 lane as frequently, which can be confusing to drivers. Having consistency is safer.

General reasons for lane closures

In general, there are three reasons lane closures during construction:

  1. To provide room for trucks.
  2. To give space for unloading and loading.
  3. To give work crews a safely buffer from traffic.

Do you have any questions or comments about what’s happening in lane closures? 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.

 

rapidways >> who goes there?

March 23rd, 2016

rapidways >> who goes there?

We have rapidways open on Highway 7 East, and on Davis Drive, and most people who live and work near these new rapid transit routes know who has access to the rapidways – buses! In fact, the rapidways are paved in red and painted with “bus only” to prevent others from accidentally entering the lanes.

There are a few others who are allowed to drive in the rapidway lanes. Ambulances, fire engines and police cruisers are permitted in an emergency to get past traffic quickly and safely. This is an added benefit that the rapidways bring to each community – saving valuable time when it’s truly needed.

Vehicles such as snow plows and street cleaners maintain the rapidways as needed. Maintenance and security staff from YRT/Viva operations and their contractor, TOK Transit, also access the rapidway stations and their marked vehicles may be seen at the far end of a station platform. This part of the platform is ramped on one side for their use – but this ramp should never be used by regular traffic to cross the rapidway.

Pedestrians and cyclists have access to any vivastation via the traffic signals and crosswalk, but should never jaywalk or cycle across or along rapidway lanes. To do this is risky because it’s unexpected and distracting to both Viva operators and drivers in regular traffic. And although we fully support active and alternative modes of travel, you also can’t travel the rapidway lanes in a scooter or wheelchair, skateboard, motorcycle, hoverboard, segway, golf cart, unicycle… or any other interesting mode of transportation we haven’t thought of yet!

You may wonder why Viva buses use the rapidways, but YRT buses don’t. The reason is that YRT buses either need to turn on and off the road frequently to gather customers, or their purpose is different – e.g., more stops, turning into shopping plazas, etc. Viva and YRT routes are evaluated by YRT/Viva’s Service Planning branch on a regular basis, and service changes are made to routes and schedules as needed.

A street that includes a rapidway is a complete street, with space for doing everything in a safe and efficient way.  Hope you get out and enjoy our streets this spring!

 

a touch of nature…

March 18th, 2016

a touch of nature…

…makes the whole world kin. At least that’s what Shakespeare wrote. Everyone wants to help out the environment, even just a little. And the key to making that happen is to weave it into what you do. At vivaNext, we do what we can to help out by incorporating environmental and sustainable standards into what we do.

saving…

When we built a transit facility in Richmond Hill, more than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by recycling. This equals about 582 tonnes, or enough to fill 32 city buses. The facility was built to LEED Silver standards, and includes a rainwater recycling system for the bus wash, which saves about 5.5 million litres each year. When we build rapidways, the old asphalt is taken to local recycling centres, saving valuable construction material for re-use.

planting…

Every rapidway project includes tree-lined sidewalks with special under-sidewalk root systems and tree and shrub species chosen to best suit their location. Including greenery in our communities has important side benefits, including improved health for residents, increased property values, better business outcomes, and reduced energy costs. Each project is unique, and where there are creeks and culverts, our work includes natural restoration, which creates better conditions for wildlife and aquatic species. For a peek at how we connect with nature, check out our video.

building!

And don’t forget the most important thing we’re doing – building rapid transit! Adding sustainable travel choices to our landscape is the most important thing we can do to help our communities thrive. Each bus can replace up to 70 cars and during peak hours along rapidway routes, can be up to 42% faster and certainly reduces emissions. Having fast, reliable transit within walking distance helps support the growth coming to our downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill – and this central growth helps prevent suburban sprawl.

We’re doing what we can to help the environment and making it part of what we do. Earth Hour is 8:30-9:30pm this Saturday, and we’ll do that little bit extra by powering down and we hope you will too.

 

working together in our community

March 16th, 2016

working together in our community

Working together in our community, we spotted an opportunity to help out when the Yonge Street rapidway project team was faced with having to remove 22 landscaping stones to make way for utility relocations. Belinda’s Place, a new multi-service facility in York Region, was making plans to beautify the property after months of construction. So, after making contact and sorting out the details, it was agreed that Belinda’s Place would become the stones’ new home – collaboration and recycling at its best!

Belinda’s Place provides a safe and supportive environment for single, homeless women. It includes 28 emergency beds and nine transitional units for short-term emergency shelter and longer-term transitional housing. Supportive counselling and life-skill learning opportunities are offered to help people find and maintain permanent housing.

As with any large undertaking, there were many players involved to make this happen, but we would like to recognize our partners, Enbridge and Aecon, for doing the ‘heavy lifting’ on behalf of the project.

To see the work they did, watch this video from the event in February.

From the generosity of the original owners of the stones, to the skill and professionalism of the work crews, to the enthusiasm of the staff and residents on hand, a deep sense of pride was evident at each stage of the operation.

A project of this scale is only possible with community-minded partners. The commitment of time, equipment and personnel was put to good use to enrich the lives of so many and ensure true community spirit and recycling of material to a location that will be appreciated by many today and in the future.

For more information on Belinda’s Place, please visit belindasplace.ca

 

where will the vivastations be along Bathurst & Centre?

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.

 

building complete streets in York Region

March 2nd, 2016

building complete streets in York Region

When looking at the award winning rapidway on Highway 7 in Richmond Hill and Markham, or Davis Drive in Newmarket, you’ll notice some features that make them different from your average street.

Wider sidewalks, more accessibility features, large attractive tree planters to provide a buffer between pedestrians and traffic, and bike lanes where possible, are all part of York Region’s urban design philosophy. It’s an approach that will shape the future of our communities and neighbourhoods, and it’s what Urban Planners call a ‘complete street’ – a street designed for everyone.

The complete street transformation is starting to unfold on Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket this year. Utilities are being relocated to accommodate the dedicated bus rapid transit lanes in the centre of the road. In time, the same thoughtful and elegant elements will take shape on one of the region’s most important roads for transportation, commerce and entertainment – the perfect place to stop, shop and dine – Yonge Street!

The complete street approach ensures that planners and engineers design and manage public infrastructure that takes in account users of all ages, abilities, and modes of travel.

One of the underpinnings of the complete street approach is to treat roads as destinations. With careful planning, roads can be public spaces with lush greenery and design features that engage people. Streets can be places to go instead of just surfaces to drive on. They should connect to businesses and places where people live, and also to trails, parks and other gathering places in order to help build a sense of community.

Another key consideration is accessibility, because whether you get around in a stroller, wheelchair, on transit, walking, cycling or driving, everyone needs safe and convenient options.

To learn more about complete streets and how they are being implemented across Canada and around the world, visit completestreetsforcanada.ca, or smartgrowthamerica.org.

 

7 ways to communicate with vivaNext

February 26th, 2016

YRRTC many ways to communicate

We want to hear from you!

If you’ve ever had a question about vivaNext, about construction in your neighbourhood, or about local business support during construction – we invite you to talk to us!

We’ve made sure that there are, literally, umpteen ways that you can communicate with us and we can regularly communicate with you.

  1. Sign up for notices
    Because coping with construction is a lot easier when you know what to expect, we routinely send email construction bulletins to thousands of subscribers with details about impending lane closures and information about exactly what’s going on. Check out a recent sample, and then sign up at www.vivanext.com/subscribe and select the project that’s relevant to you.
  2. Send us an email
    Have a comment or question? Contact us by sending us an email at contactus@vivanext.com.
  3. Contact your Community Liaison Specialist
    Community Liaison Specialists are here for you, covering each section of the vivaNext project and available to answer your questions and address your concerns. Find out more about the CLs.
  4. Visit us at your nearest Project Information Centre
    You are welcome to come visit us in person to chat, ask questions, provide feedback, see project maps and obtain more information. Here’s where to find us at these public offices, along with our office hours.
  5. Read the vivaNext blog
    We post new articles every week, providing details about the projects, and it gives a chance to read about what’s going on behind the scenes with construction, get information about transit and city planning, and the various topics of the day. You’re always welcome to comment, and we’re happy to respond. Or, let us know if there is a subject you would like to know more about.
  6. Visit us out in the community!
    Throughout the year, you’ll be seeing Community Liaisons and other vivaNext staff at different events and festivals to help keep everyone informed and to find out what you’re thinking. For information about the upcoming events we’ll be participating in this year, check out our Community Events page.
  7. Engage with us on social media
    We encourage you to follow us on Twitter, where we share all of our construction notices and other information, and to be sure to like us on Facebook, where we share interesting articles, cool retro photos and each new blogpost.

We’re all eyes and ears and we look forward to hearing from you soon!