Posts Tagged ‘Newmarket’

keeping you warm out there

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

This has been a really cold winter so far, and there’s still a lot more winter to come.  Fortunately for our viva riders on the newly opened Highway 7 rapidway, keeping you warm was one of our priorities when we designed the new median stations.  Like everything else with vivaNext, a lot of engineering analysis and planning was done to ensure the enclosures provide the right level of comfort in the winter.  Here’s the background.

When we opened the prototype vivaNext station at Enterprise and Warden, we used a well-regarded heater that our original analysis showed would keep things adequately warm.  But at 1000 watts, the heater wasn’t quite powerful enough to provide the level of comfort we wanted to achieve.  So when it came time to design the shelters for the larger rapidway program, we went back to the drawing board.

First, we determined how warm we wanted to make the shelters. Given that most people are only waiting for a few minutes, we didn’t want to make the shelters so warm that people would need to take off their coats.  Bearing this in mind, we decided that the right target would be to heat the shelters to 10 degrees Celsius.

Next, we needed to find a technology that would be energy efficient: with the enclosures’ semi-outdoor design, using traditional space heaters would, in addition to requiring exhaust systems and airflow, be very inefficient. We decided to use radiant heaters, which work by projecting heat energy directly onto the people in the shelter (if you’ve watched your kids play hockey at a rink, you’ll know how effective this kind of heater can be).  Another benefit is that radiant heaters quickly ramp up to full power but can be shut off quickly as well, conserving energy.

Last, we needed to determine how many heaters we’d need to install to achieve our target temperature.  We did a computer simulation of the bus shelter, programming in local weather data to assess the thermal conditions in the shelter for every hour throughout a typical year.  The model took into consideration the concrete and glass design of the shelter, as well as replicating wind speeds and temperatures.

Using all this information, we decided that four heaters, each providing 3000 watts of power, would be sufficient to achieve the 10 degrees target: that’s 12,000 watts per enclosure (a typical electric fireplace is between 750 and 1500 watts). Sensors on the units detect when someone walks into the enclosure, starting the heater; if the sensors don’t detect any other movement, the heaters will shut off after 30 minutes.   And to help keep the warmth in the enclosures, we’ve installed push buttons on the doors so they close automatically, as well as installing winter covers over the ventilation louvers on the doors.

We hope you are pleased with the comfort we’ve been able to design into the shelters, and are happy to make winter a little warmer for our viva riders.

 

managing the vivaNext plan

Thursday, 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.

 

spending quality time with your loved ones

Tuesday, 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…

Thursday, 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.

ol’ man winter is here… are you ready?

Tuesday, 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

Friday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Monday, 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.

 

wouldn’t you like an extra 32 minutes a day?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Did you know that a recent American study showed that people, who live in areas with good access to transit, are more satisfied with their quality of life than people who don’t have easy access to transit?* This is one of the reasons cited by an intriguing new public awareness campaign, arguing that more and better access to transit is good for communities, families and individuals.

The new campaign – dubbed Your32 – is an initiative spearheaded by the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, a not-for-profit advocacy organization that promotes the economic, social, and environmental benefits of building transit infrastructure across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.  The campaign is being done in partnership with a wide range of leaders representing key sectors across our communities and economy, including business, academia, labour and financial.

The big-picture benefits of transit are well known: it’s better for the environment; it will reduce the gridlock that’s choking our roads; and it will help our economy and productivity.  All of which are reason enough that we need more transit in the GTHA, and we need it now.

But ultimately we all live our lives at a personal level, and this is what the Your32 Campaign does that’s so interesting: it brings the benefits closer to home for each of us.  Your32 refers to the estimated 32 minutes per day that people would save on their commute once the Metrolinx transit plan for the GTHA (The Big Move) is fully funded and built.  32 minutes is the difference between the projected future average commute time if no comprehensive transit system is built, and the average future commute time with the big move.

32 minutes a day: that’s a lot of time over the course of a year – 8 full days – that you could be doing something better with.  And over the course of your life it adds up to about two years of found time.   There are a lot of ways most of us could imagine spending 2 extra years, beyond spending it sitting in gridlock.

The Your32 website has a lot of really interesting facts and figures about commuting and how better transit will benefit all of us, and its aim is to encourage people to become more knowledgeable about the issues and possible solutions.  The campaign is asking people to “pledge” their support for new funding sources that are “dedicated, efficient, transparent & accountable, regional, fair, and sustainable”.  And ultimately, its objective is to continue to build support from people and governments at all levels for more funding for transit in the GTHA.

We’re proud that vivaNext and York Region are already helping lead the move for more transit, and we’re pleased that such a useful campaign is underway to help reach more people and get out the true facts about transit.  I recommend this initiative to anyone interested in learning more, and to add their voice calling for senior levels of government to fund the transit we all need.

 

happy national housing day

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Having a home is probably one of the most important and basic needs people have, and National Housing Day was introduced to remind us we should never take this fundamental need for granted.  This year National Housing Day is Friday November 22, and it’s being marked by special initiatives all across the country including here in York Region, where the Region is hosting a special social media and web-based campaign to raise awareness about the importance of affordable housing.

One of the biggest challenges facing our Region is that people have limited choice when it comes to affordable housing.  Traditionally a suburban region, many York Region residents have chosen to live in low-density single-family homes. As wonderful as that choice is for many, many families, there are some people who want – or need – other options.  And until recently, people who wanted to live in other forms of housing had very limited choices within the Region.

York has the lowest percentage of rental accommodation in the entire GTA. In some cases, that has meant people who want to live in York Region to stay near their families, or their jobs, have had to move away.  Whether it’s a young professional in their first job who has had to leave York Region to find affordable housing, or an older person who can’t manage a larger home on their own any more, too many people have found it hard to stay here at home.

Fortunately that’s changing, and VivaNext is a key driver that’s helping to expand the housing choices available here in York Region.

All along the viva routes, we’re seeing more and more housing being developed or proposed, including higher density developments near our new urban centres. Taking the direction from Regional Council, 35% of new housing in the centres and key development areas along the corridors have to meet affordability criteria, which is going to meet a key need here in York Region.

Building residential units along transit can help to reduce housing costs, since developments don’t have to include as much underground parking spaces.  This can reduce costs per unit significantly.  Another benefit of building near transit means people can get around without needing a car.  Whether you’re a young person moving out for the first time, or an older person who is happy to give up the keys to the car, that’s a significant advantage.

The best thing is that people who want to stay in York Region are now more able to, because rapid transit and long-term planning together are resulting in more choices, and more affordability.

So on November 22, give a thought to how much it would mean to you to be able to stay in the community you love, and to have a variety of affordable options to choose from.  We’re really pleased to be helping make that more possible, and wish you a Happy National Housing Day.