Posts Tagged ‘Newmarket’

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.

lights, sound… Viva!

Friday, October 30th, 2015

lights, sound... Viva!

lights…

Safety has been top priority in designing the rapidway, vivastations, and the surrounding streetscape. Streetlights are one of the most important safety elements, and their design contributes significantly to the overall streetscape. While developing lighting designs, vivaNext works with York Region, the local Municipality and the Utility companies to coordinate, design and install the lights, ensuring they provide both safety and visual appeal.

There are strict national and local standards on how street lighting needs to be designed, including how much lighting is required for different conditions. For example, different criteria are used to determine the necessary lighting levels for roadways, intersections and sidewalks. These include variables such as pole height, spacing and “lux,” which is the amount of light that a fixture provides.

Once the lighting standards are established, lighting design helps achieve the desired streetscape “look.”  In the case of vivaNext, the streetscape design is modern, stylish and uncluttered, helping the corridors feel like urban destinations, distinctive from other roads.

To keep with the uncluttered look on Davis Drive, special hydro poles were installed that don’t require guy wires and can have streetlights installed. The luminaires [light heads/fixtures] on the streetlights have a light sensor to automatically turn on and off, and the bulbs only need to be replaced every 4 years.

 

sound…

Have you ever found yourself straining to hear a quiet, garbled message from a public address system? It’s frustrating, especially when that message is important to your commute. At our vivastations, we want to be sure you won’t face this frustration, so our engineers have worked hard to design the public address [PA] system. Having audio at stations is also part of keeping Viva accessible for all users.

We conducted a sound analysis study, to determine how the shape of our vivastations would affect the way sound moves around inside the stations, and way it would reflect off the concrete wall, floor and glass. As it turned out, 12 speakers outside the passenger enclosure and another three speakers inside does the trick.

The next challenge was to work on the volume of the speakers.  The problem with PA systems in noisy places is that ambient noise can overwhelm the volume of the PA system, making it impossible to hear what’s being said.  Our solution is to use a speaker volume system that automatically adjusts when its sensors detect an increase or decrease in ambient noise.

There are two sensors on each new Viva platform. These allow PA announcements to be audible whether there’s a bus idling in the station and trucks are moving past, or it’s nighttime and quiet. This type of speaker volume system ensures that messages can always be heard, but won’t be intrusive.

 

action!

Once the rapidway opens on Davis Drive, you’ll be able to travel faster, and see and hear clearly when the next Viva vehicle is coming. What could be better than that?

 

signs of progress: staff and operator training has begun

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

signs of progress: staff and operator training has begun

We’re really counting down the days to the opening of the vivaNext rapidway service on Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Roxborough, and we bet you are too! You’ll know we’re in the final stages of construction once you see Viva buses out on the new rapidway.

Starting today, we will be doing systems testing on the new Davis Drive rapidway, in the Town of Newmarket, followed by driver training in November.

Training will be provided not only for Viva bus operators, but also for everyone who will need to be familiar with the rapidways, the stations and the equipment. Viva vehicles will be out on Davis Drive, taking customer service staff and other YRT/Viva staff along the rapidways to test and familiarize them with the new setup. Regular YRT transit service will continue to pick up passengers at curbside stops until testing and training is completed, and paving is fully finished. Signs directing passengers will be posted at the curbside stops.

Operator training will run from 7am to as late as 9pm on some nights, seven days per week.  During this time you can expect to see Viva buses driving up and down the rapidway, stopping at the vivastations. The training will focus on entering and exiting the rapidway, with an emphasis on safely merging back into mixed traffic past Yonge Street and Roxborough.

Operator training will also focus on the new transit signals at intersections, which will display a single green arrow for Viva buses. This signal will be clearly marked as transit only, but Viva operators will be trained to be cautious and on the lookout to make sure members of the driving public are following the signals correctly and not turning into the rapidway lanes.

The trainees are all experienced Viva operators, so they know the route and the vehicle. They’re really excited to get going!

 

paving in stages to get it done right

Friday, October 9th, 2015

paving in stages to get it done right

As much as it has a huge impact on our day-to-day quality of life, it’s probably safe to say that roadway design is not very top-of-mind for most of us.  This is probably true, even for the part of the road that we all directly interact with every time we get in a vehicle: the asphalt paving that covers the surface.

Yet for anyone impatient for the last stages to be finished along the newly widened Davis Drive in Newmarket, it’s helpful to understand the paving process overall, and why this final stage of each rapidway project seems to take such a long time to complete.

Most roads in Canada are paved with the familiar black asphalt, which is a mix of a binding ingredient and gravel.  Asphalt is popular because it’s relatively inexpensive to install compared to concrete, wears well, and can be restored many times before the road needs to be completely rebuilt.  Given the cost and disruption involved with repairing or rebuilding a road, it’s critically important that you get the asphalt “mix” right, and put the asphalt down properly in the first place.

The first fact to understand is that not all asphalt paving is the same.  The wear and tear on a road will depend on the volume of traffic it gets, including how many vehicles are trucks or cars, and how fast they’re going.  Whether the traffic is generally driving straight, or is turning, or stopping and starting as is the case at a busy intersection, will affect the wear.  So asphalt mixes vary, depending on how durable it needs to be to stand up to the traffic it will carry. Different mixes have different installation requirements, including how long they take to cure before they can take heavy traffic.

The other important consideration with asphalt is that proper installation makes all the difference to how well it will wear.  There are a number of steps that have to be taken to ensure the durability of the asphalt, in addition to getting the mix right:

  • First, the gravel base that the top layers go over has to be in excellent condition. It needs to be perfectly smooth, level and compact, or else the top asphalt can crack and pothole more quickly.
  • The air temperature needs to be within a certain range: too hot or too cold, and the asphalt won’t last as long.
  • It needs to be installed in wide swathes extending across lanes, to avoid having too many joints.
  • It needs to be carefully tied in at side streets, to make sure the entire roadway is smooth and level.
  • The asphalt at intersections, which get extra heavy wear from vehicles braking, accelerating and turning, needs to be especially carefully installed.

The distinctive red asphalt on our vivaNext rapidways and intersections has its own requirements, and has to be laid down last, in a single layer, once the blacktop is completely set.

Working out a construction schedule that allows us to meet all these requirements before the weather gets too cold, requires that access to the roadway is completely restricted for short periods, within small segments.  Our team is working closely with the community to minimize the disruption as much as possible, although we know this stage is going to be challenging for everyone.

Getting the final stages done right has a direct impact on the long term performance of the road and the new rapid transit system.  As much as we want to be finished as soon as possible, speeding up the process simply is not an option. By building to the highest standards now, we’ll have a high quality road that will perform well for years to come.

 

final paving on Davis Drive is underway!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

final paving on Davis Drive is underway!

Final paving is here! This week you’ll start to see the distinctive red asphalt on the rapidway and intersections along the Davis Drive corridor in Newmarket. It’s exciting because final paving means that underground utilities and infrastructure work is complete, the road has been widened to accommodate the centre lane rapidway and the medians and curbs are in place. All these elements help define a new urban destination for Newmarket. This is a significant milestone in the transformation of Davis Drive.

If you travel along Davis on a regular basis, you’re already aware of the fundamental changes that have been made to the way people drive, walk and ride on the corridor. New intersections allow for protected left-turns and u-turns, and feature optional two-stage pedestrian crossings, and accessibility features like audible chirps to aid people who are visually impaired. For the eco-conscious, the greenery planned for Davis Drive and the connections to paths like the Tom Taylor Trail will make the sidewalks and boulevards inviting spaces for all.

It’s not just Davis that’s getting a shiny new coat, the side streets that connect to Davis will be paved at the intersections so that they tie-in nicely with the new road.

Even after years of planning, design and construction, the rapidway just feels more tangible and real when we apply our distinct red asphalt to the road. There’s something special about knowing that you’re contributing to the future growth and prosperity of entire neighbourhoods, towns and regions by connecting people to the places they work, shop and play.

We are already seeing the benefits of improved traffic flow and travel times along Highway 7 in Richmond Hill and Markham, and the YRT/Viva network continues to grow.

To get there is a messy process, there’s no doubt. But we are asking you to hang in there with us over the next month or so, and we hope that you’ll share our enthusiasm for the finished product.

 

Newmarket Jazz Festival

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Newmarket Jazz Festival

It’s already the middle of summer, and despite the heat, we hope you’ve been out in the weather, having fun. This weekend, the Newmarket Jazz Festival is the place to be for great music, fun activities for the kids, and food and vendors of all kinds.

Come out Friday night, 5:30-11pm – for the free t-shirts [first 500 ticket-holders], activities and music on two stages. On Saturday and Sunday from noon to 11pm and Monday from noon to 8pm, there will be more music, a Creative Kids Zone and special performances for the kids.

The vivaNext team will be there handing out scratch ‘n’ win cards, so stop by our booth and chat. And have a happy and safe long weekend!

 

paving season is always a good news story

Monday, May 25th, 2015

click here to see the paving video!

If it’s spring, it must be paving season! [see the video]

It’s not unusual for us at vivaNext to get very excited about paving season because it is always a good news story. The fact is construction can be dusty and disruptive – but, just like seeing the leaves open up on the trees in spring – the surest sign that the heavy construction is nearing its end is when the paving crews arrive.

Currently, as platform construction continues for the future vivastations along Highway 7 in Vaughan, the next segments of base-layer paving have begun between Edgeley Blvd./Interchange Way to Keele St. This paving will be completed in sections over the next two months and will include closures and detours.

One question you may be asking is why do crews revisit a section once it’s paved? The process happens layer by layer, which is why the crews will come back to the same location more than once. Because Highway 7 has to bear the load of regular traffic and heavy vehicles, we need to start with a solid base layer to make sure the road holds up over time.

To create the red pavement on the rapidways, we use a special pigment that is carefully mixed to achieve the right balance of rich red and rugged durability.

Each step needs to be done in sequence, and takes a certain amount of time. While the paving itself doesn’t take more than a few hours, fresh pavement can’t handle traffic right away. Also, we plan the work outside of busy business traffic times of the week, and the day – for example, crews typically work overnight and on weekends – weather permitting.

To stay informed about the paving activities along Highway 7 in Vaughan this spring and summer, check out our paving page at vivaNext.com/paving7. On vivanext.com you can also find Davis Drive paving and construction info, and sign up for construction updates.

 

bringing rapid transit to your doorstep… a behind the scenes look at building a vivastation

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Bringing rapid transit to your doorstep… a behind the scenes look at building a vivastation

Throughout the fall and winter, crews have endured every kind of weather Mother Nature has thrown their way, while installing the vivastation at Longford/Parkside and Davis. There are many detailed steps to constructing a vivastation, and as we shared with you last year, it takes careful planning and precision throughout those stages of the construction.

We’ve captured components of the delivery, installation and construction for the west and eastbound platforms at Longford and Davis on video to provide you with a behind-the-scenes look and better understanding of what it takes to build a vivastation. All of the vivastations that are built as part of the vivaNext bus rapidway project are an important component of the top-notch transit system in York Region. When the Davis rapidway is in service this December 2015, transit users will enjoy the convenience of the new-technology and innovative features that each Viva vehicle and vivastation offers.

As you can see in the video, the vivastation was constructed piece-by-piece, like a puzzle, and crews will continue braving the elements to add the finishing touches to the west and eastbound platforms at Longford/Davis throughout the year. The vivastations at Main and Southlake Regional Health Centre are also progressing right on schedule and will give transit riders all the same conveniences.

By the end of the year, Viva will be running on Davis Drive from Yonge Street to Highway 404 and residents and visitors to the area will begin to experience the benefits of having rapid transit at their doorsteps. We know living through construction hasn’t been easy and we’re grateful for everyone’s patience as we work as quickly as possible to complete this large undertaking.

 

earth hour – make it count

Friday, March 27th, 2015

earth hour 2015

It’s that time of year again, when we turn off the lights and other electronics for an hour on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30pm. To raise awareness about climate change, this hour reminds us that with only a small amount of effort we can use less energy. In York Region and Simcoe County last year, Powerstream recorded 48 megawatts in savings – enough to power 1,480 homes for 24 hours.

Aside from Earth Hour, you can be planet-friendly by doing things like using energy-efficient light bulbs, mowing your lawn less, walking or biking and sharing your ride or by taking transit. Viva may be blue, but it is a great green alternative! Every little thing counts, and it all adds up to a healthier environment.

So, York Region… enjoy your candle-lit dinners, your early-spring walks, some quiet time or take a ride on transit. If you’re looking for Earth Hour activities Saturday, check out some of the events happening around the Region, at community centres and local businesses: Powerstream blog about events in Markham and Vaughan, Facebook community page for Earth Hour in Newmarket, Earth Hour 2015 official video.

2014 – a year of action

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

2014 - a year of action

As 2014 draws to a close, we’re pleased to say that each of our projects saw great progress this year. The Bus Rapid Transit projects start and end at different times so each has its own construction schedule to match the unique challenges, such as: length of rapidway, complexity of underground work, and landscape and infrastructure features like hills and bridges. As we progress through these challenges we consider them milestones, and after a year of milestones there are plenty of moments to look back on.

On Highway 7 East in Markham, the second stretch of rapidway opened from Highway 404 to South Town Centre Boulevard, and construction will be complete on the last piece to Warden Avenue by the end of 2014, with some finishing touches to add in spring 2015. This final section allows Viva customers to experience the future of rapid transit in York Region, from Bayview Avenue in Richmond Hill to the Downtown Markham development area. Riders are already seeing up to 35% travel time savings on the rapidways.

In Newmarket on Davis Drive, utilities and telecommunications were relocated to prepare for road widening and building the rapidways in the centre of the road. Road widening continued and base-layer paving was also completed in sections along Davis. Significant milestones included: completing the structure of the Keith Bridge and reopening the Tom Taylor Trail, moving the Union Hotel into its final location and installing the steel structures for the first vivastation at Longford/Parkside. The glass canopies will be installed over the winter and the vivastations at Main Street and Southlake Hospital are also underway. It’s been a busy, messy year but crews are working quickly. We’re in the home stretch with the rapidway set to open December 2015.

Along Highway 7 West in Vaughan, the first phase of rapidways is well underway and a there has been a lot of progress in 2014. Between Jane Street and the CN Bridge, work continues on base-layer paving, building retaining walls and expanding the CN Bridge, and we’re almost done relocating some underground infrastructure. East of Jane Street, the road has been widened and traffic has been shifted, so that work in the centre of the road [including paving, installing vivastations platforms and canopies!] can begin in 2015. The contract for phase two of the rapidways in Vaughan will be awarded in 2015, adding dedicated bus lanes and vivastations from Edgeley Boulevard to Pine Valley Drive and from Bowes Road to Yonge Street [in blue on map]. While some pre-construction activities are already underway, construction is expected to begin in late 2015/early 2016.

On Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, the contractor is working to finalize the rapidway design and construction schedule. Meanwhile, crews are out conducting surveys and utility investigations to make sure we have an accurate record of what’s above and below the ground.

We’re also building a state-of-the-art Operations, Maintenance and Storage Facility in Richmond Hill to act as a ‘home base’ for transit. This nine-acre, 481,679 square foot facility will be LEED® certified [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design], and is scheduled to be complete mid-2015.

Everyone’s busy making memories during the holidays, but we hope that you’ll have a few moments to see some of our videos that give you a sneak peak at rapid transit in York Region:

Where did it all begin? See the launch of curbside Viva service in 2005. Also see the vision for the transformation of York Region and some of the considerations given to the design of the rapidway vivastation, and take a peek inside the rapidway vivastations.

While you’re watching videos, why not find out what’s happening in your community: