Posts Tagged ‘rapid transit’

spring is in the air

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

John Steinbeck – “What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” Such words have never been truer than this past winter.  The Greater Toronto Area recorded the coldest winter in 20 years; there have been at least 10 days of temperature that dipped below -20 C, which hasn’t happened in seven years and this has been the longest winter on record in over 100 years! With the official arrival of spring, vivaNext is preparing to ramp up our construction and road work.

Last year, we had some great milestones with the opening of 3.9 kilometres of rapidway on Highway 7 from Bayview Avenue to Highway 404. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] project celebrated a major milestone at the end of last year, with the tunnel boring machines [TBMs] “Yorkie” and “Torkie” finished their tunneling journey north to Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] station. Ongoing utility relocation on Highway 7 West, as well as CN Bridge work.  On Davis Drive, nearly all retaining walls have been constructed, the eastern creek culvert has been replaced and extended, and the majority of hydro poles have been relocated. Road widening and base-layer paving has started, while reconstruction of Keith Bridge and the extension of the western creek bridge on the north side continue.

Building on the progress and advancing the BRT project, we’ll continue to relocate utilities, construct retaining walls, widen roads and pave along the different corridors, not to mention finishing the new viva stations on Highway 7 in Markham.  With the longer days and bright sunshine, comes a lot more activity in the construction zones so please drive carefully and be alert to workers in the area. We know construction can be daunting and we thank you for your patience and understanding. Please drive with care and give yourself extra time to get to your destination safely.

To find out what is happening this spring, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. You can also sign up for email notices at vivanext.com to keep you updated on the construction underway in your area.

 

taking care near our urban watercourses

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

If you’ve been at the corner of Jane Street and Highway 7 in Vaughan recently, you’ll have seen the work underway to build a 10 metre long retaining wall near where the Black Creek flows through a large culvert under the roadway.

We’re building the retaining wall to support the newly widened roadway. Ensuring that our project does not negatively affect any of the watercourses adjacent to or crossing our rapidway segments is a top priority for vivaNext, and we have made commitments through the Environmental Assessment phase of the project for how we will carry out that work to ensure there are no harmful effects.  In keeping with this commitment, we need to have the major work on the retaining wall finished this spring before April 1, completing the in-water work before the closing of the pre-established work window.

This “work window” is set by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources, and is set out in timing guidelines that are applied to construction projects near or in watercourses that are home to any species of fish.  These timing guidelines are intended to protect fish from any impact from construction work being done in or around water, during the critical life stages for fish including spawning migrations, egg incubation and fry emergence.

Provincial guidelines are organized by region as well as by fish species within those regions.  Fish can be divided into those that spawn in cold water (i.e. in the spring) and those that spawn in warm water (i.e. in the fall), with the species in the Black Creek being in the cold-water group.  For that reason, the construction permits require that any work we do in or near the Black Creek be done outside of the period from April 1 to June 30, to ensure that the project doesn’t interfere with their spawning.

Once the work window closes April 1, we will not do any work in or around the water until the beginning of July.  So we go to great lengths to ensure the work on the Black Creek retaining wall is finished by the end of March, and that we won’t need to do any other activities involving in-water work until the summer.

Our commitment to ensuring our work has no adverse effects on the environment goes well beyond avoiding any in-water work at sensitive times.  On all our segments, we work closely with the local conservation authorities, who approve the final designs before we get their permission to work.  Our mutual goal is to ensure the project, at a minimum, avoids any harmful impacts, and in many cases actively enhances the natural environment. We also use various construction strategies to mitigate any potential impacts while we’re working, such as installing cofferdams from sheet piles or sand bags around our work zones within watercourses.   By using these methods, we’re able to work “in-the-dry”, thereby avoiding any risks to the watercourse and its fish, even if the in-water work window has closed.

We’re happy to know that the vivaNext project is going to ultimately enhance our shared environment for people and the other creatures that live in York.  So taking great care as we work near our creeks and rivers is just one example of how we’re committed to protecting and enhancing our natural surroundings, even in a fully-urbanized area like Highway 7 and Jane Street.

Please remember as the temperature heats up during spring thaw, water ways and creeks can been extremely dangerous, remember to keep a safe distance.

 

communication is key

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

VivaNext is committed to providing timely and informative updates on all our construction projects. We have a small team of communicators who work behind the scenes to ensure you get the practical information you need. We strive to keep everyone up-to-date through various print and electronic communication vehicles.

Social media is an important tool that we use to provide information to our vivaNext users/followers. It allows for instant communications and easy access to all of the project news and updates.  It also provides the opportunity to have an engaged conversation in “real-time”. We summarized a number of our communication initiatives and social media channels in a short video for you to see just how dedicated we are to keeping you informed throughout construction.

In this video, you’ll also see a glimpse of the Davis Drive rapidway construction and the progress underway in the Town of Newmarket. While we capture as much as we can on video, it doesn’t always do the work justice. Why not check for yourself and stop by Davis Drive today to see the transformation unfolding and while you’re there Shop Davis to support your local retailers during construction.

Just as we keep the communication flowing to you, we also appreciate your interaction with us. Asking questions, sharing your thoughts, photos and comments, and posting on our social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter not only promotes participation, it also provides us with feedback. We also encourage you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.

We really enjoy hearing from you and appreciate your input. Let’s continue to keep the channels open and the communications flowing.

 

what’s next for yonge?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

 

Did you know that the next phase of rapid transit is coming to Yonge Street? As part of our overall plan to reduce traffic congestion throughout York Region, vivaNext will be building rapidways on one of Canada’s most famous streets, providing fast, reliable, convenient transit and accommodating new intensified development in Richmond Hill and Newmarket.

The Yonge Street rapidway project includes attractive landscaping, wider sidewalks and bike lanes, setting the stage for pedestrian-friendly and mixed-use development and enhancing the area as an attractive destination for residents, businesses and visitors to live, work and visit.

For those of you who joined us at our public meetings in November, you would have seen preliminary project plans and conceptual drawings of the future Yonge Street rapidways.  Here is a brief re-cap of what the plans are:

In Richmond Hill - Yonge Street will be widened to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes for viva buses in the centre of the road and seven new vivastations. In total the rapidway will extend 6.5 kilometres from Highway 7 to 19th Avenue/Gamble Road. In the heritage area north of Major Mackenzie Drive, viva will continue to drive in mixed traffic as it does today.

In Newmarket – dedicated bus rapid transit lanes will run along 2.4 kilometres of Yonge Street from just south of Mulock Drive to meet up with the vivaNext rapidways already under construction along Davis Drive. The Yonge Street rapidway will be home to three new vivastations at Mulock Drive, Eagle Street and Davis Drive.

While crews are out on site conducting advanced studies and property surveys along this corridor to help prepare for construction, the next step for this project is to award the Design-Build Contract. From there we will be busy working with the contractor to create construction plans, complete preliminary engineering studies, refine the design and establish timelines for various phases of construction for this project. The contract is expected to be awarded soon, so stay tuned for details.

join the discussions in vaughan?

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Congestion in the GTHA is at an all-time high, with an additional 2.5 million people and one million more cars expected in the next 20 years, the problems will only get worse. We can no longer postpone building the kind of transit network that offers residents and commuters better transportation choices, eases congestion, connects them with jobs and travelling efficiently in all directions.

New transit lines connect most neighbourhoods and business districts, putting commuters within a short walk of rapid transit.  The vivaNext project is a part of this overreaching transit network that will connect not only local but regional service once completed.

York Region Transit [YRT] conventional routes cater to local communities in all York Region municipalities and also include GO Shuttles and Express services.  These routes stop frequently at the curbside of the road. Viva connects Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Aurora and Newmarket and also links York Region with Toronto and its subway system, GO Transit and the Region of Peel. It operates along major corridors much like an above-ground subway, for faster service.  Once Viva service is running in its own rapidway, service will be even faster.

Transit planning takes time and includes: consultation with the users, route planning, bus scheduling and stop identification.

This year, YRT is holding stakeholder engagement meetings to discuss transit routes and overall service to prepare for the opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] in the City of Vaughan. The Subway is scheduled to open in 2016 and we want to be ready.

YRT\Viva is looking for your input at their public information meetings.   We encourage you to come out to these events and learn how transit development will affect you in your daily commute and provide your input in what service and routes you want.

The vivaNext team will be there also, so join us for an in-depth look at different elements of vivaNext projects, plans, designs and ongoing activities or visit vivanext.com.

winter work to make our spring schedule

Friday, January 31st, 2014

With its cold temperatures, snow and ice, winter is not the ideal construction season for roadwork in general, which is why most vivaNext construction is focused on other tasks for the next few months.  But to make sure we’re ready to get going on roadwork as soon as it’s warm enough next Spring, our crews and those of various utility companies are keeping busy this winter doing a range of activities.  Here’s what you can expect to see going on out there this winter.

A key task for all the vivaNext corridors is widening the roads so we can keep the existing number of travel lanes, plus make room for the rapidways and stations in the median.  But before we can get going on construction to make the roadways wider, we need to remove and relocate all the utilities that previously ran beside the curb of the existing roadways.  This step, which involves relocating a wide range of services including gas, hydro, telecommunications, water, and sanitary and storm sewer systems, requires painstaking coordination between contractors for our project as well as the utility companies and their crews.  With contractors needing to be spaced from one another by both time and distance, and there being a logical sequence in which the services get relocated, this is a hugely time-consuming process that will be ongoing throughout the winter in various locations.

The specific activities vary from corridor to corridor, involving different utilities and work at different stages of completion. Where hydro service is above ground, hydro relocations involve crews restringing the wires on the new poles once they’ve been installed in their new locations, and then removing the old poles.  Once the service is relocated on the new poles, crews then create the connections from the new service to individual addresses.

There’s also gas work underway in several areas along the vivaNext corridors, which involves relocating gas mains underground, and then attaching individual addresses to the new service.

And working in close coordination with the underground gas work are crews from the telecommunications companies, who are relocating their services into underground joint-use duct banks that the telecoms use. Constructing the duct banks involves much more work than simply stringing wires on poles, but the benefit is that with fewer poles along the side of the road there’s more potential to beautify the streetscape, which is an important objective for our project.

Finally, the last part of this complicated dance of roadside work involves our own crews who are busy relocating sanitary sewers and storm sewer systems and watermains.

All of this work is carefully planned out one step at a time and coordinated between our builder and the utility companies, then carried out in conditions that involve extra challenges due to the need to keep the ground warm enough to work in.  But it will be worth it, since the heavy road widening and construction is best done in the warmer weather.  And once it comes, we’ll be ready to go, widening the roads so that the rapidway stations can be installed.

So watch out for all the crews who are out there working this winter, and know that their work is an important part of the vivaNext schedule.

watching the transformation unfold

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

As you travelled on and around the busy corridor of Davis Drive last year, you undoubtedly noticed the significant construction activities underway. You may also be wondering what has been completed so far.

A lot of progress was made on the project this year and a number of milestones were achieved, all of which clears the way for the 2014 construction season. Nearly all retaining walls have been constructed, the eastern creek culvert has been replaced and extended, and the majority of hydro poles have been relocated. Road widening and base-layer paving has started, while reconstruction of Keith Bridge and the extension of the western creek bridge on the north side continue.

In addition, Parkside Drive was re-aligned with Longford Drive as a full four-way intersection. The re-alignment eliminated one set of traffic lights and improves overall traffic flow in the area.

We captured a number of these accomplishments on video and condensed them into a short clip for your viewing pleasure. The investment in modernizing our roads and revitalizing Newmarket’s infrastructure will go a long way to making sure Davis Drive is built on a solid foundation that will serve the growing needs of Newmarket for many decades to come. We look forward to building on the progress made and advancing the  bus rapid transit project bringing Viva service to Davis Drive. Thank you for your patience as we complete the transformation.

 

looking back at a busy year in vaughan

Friday, January 24th, 2014

The transformation along the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] corridor has begun. And 2013 was a busy year with vivaNext rapidway construction underway along Highway 7 West. Crews worked to remove signs, test soil and begin utility relocation to prepare for construction. Check out this video to see all the hard work that took place.

Although colder temperatures are here to stay, it doesn’t mean our work is done for the season. Throughout the winter, hydro, gas and telecommunications installations and relocations will continue, and we’ll also be busy with CN Bridge work on Highway 7.

Preliminary construction activity will also continue this winter in the second phase of vivaNext rapidway construction along Highway 7 West. This phase includes approximately 12 kilometres of rapidways on 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. During the winter months, you can expect to see contractors and surveyors walking along the corridor, reviewing designs, taking photos and gathering data.

The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] project also celebrated a major milestone at the end of last year. In November, tunnel boring machines [TBMs] “Yorkie” and “Torkie” finished their tunneling journey north to VMC station. Together, these TBMs tunnelled over 6.4 km of twin tunnels for this project. Way to go! Take an inside look at TBM tunnelling for the project, including new footage of the inside operation of the TBMs and four separate TBM breakthroughs for the tunnelling in York Region.

When complete, this subway line will include six stops, 8.6 kilometres of track. Residents and visitors alike will enjoy the mixed-use, transit-oriented development offered in the VMC area, including convenient passenger pick-up and drop-off, a York Region Transit bus terminal, and connection to the viva rapidway running in dedicated lanes east and west along Highway 7. It will be a great place to work, shop or relax, and getting there will be easy whether you walk or ride transit.

Stay in touch with us over the winter! Coping with construction is a lot easier when you know what to expect, where, and for how long.  For an in-depth look at different elements of vivaNext projects, plans, designs and ongoing activities, visit vivanext.com and subscribe to receive construction notices for work happening in your area.

 

time is money: why gridlock hurts us all

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

How to reduce the gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area is a topic that is getting a lot of air-time from commentators of all descriptions.  And for good reason – gridlock has been described by the Toronto Board of Trade as costing the GTA’s economy more than $6 Billion a year.

How those numbers are calculated, and what lies behind them, isn’t always so clear.  One of the best breakdowns that I have read is the paper developed by the Toronto Board of Trade last year urging governments to invest more in transit. The paper, called Let’s Break the Gridlock provides this description of how gridlock costs us all time – and how that time costs money.

The biggest concern about gridlock in Toronto from an economic perspective is that the increasingly clogged roads slow down business, and therefore undermine profits.  These so-called “congestion costs” affect different industries in different ways, each with their own price tag.  For example, in an economy that is increasingly based on “just in time” strategies, businesses order extra stock or supplies or equipment as it is needed instead of warehousing it. But if the delivery is unreliable, businesses will need to order earlier, tying up money in extra goods and paying for warehousing.  That costs extra money, and those increased prices will be passed on to the customer.

Another huge price tag associated with gridlock is how long it takes businesses to actually move their goods around.  The congestion costs hurt businesses in many ways such as increased shipping and fuel costs, higher labour costs per shipment due to less productive drivers, and reduced travel speeds.  Big shippers who need to deliver their products to small businesses throughout the GTA, for example soft-drink bottlers who need to make deliveries to many small convenience stores and restaurants across the region, face significantly higher costs due to congestion, and the snarled roads their drivers travel.  They can make fewer deliveries per day, and each delivery costs more.

And for employers, employee recruitment is negatively impacted by the difficult commutes faced by so many in the GTA.  As the Board of Trade paper notes, the lack of transit is a serious barrier for employers in hiring skilled young professionals.  And nowhere is this problem more severe than in the 905 areas, where employers have realized that the lack of rapid transit actually adds to the cost of doing business in the suburbs.  In fact, employers are increasingly seeing the benefits of having nearby transit, so that they can attract the best employees.

With this last reason in mind, we’re fortunate that York Region is planning for the future with vivaNext.  We’re going to have great rapid transit when the construction is complete, so that people can move around our region and make convenient connections across the GTA.  And with every full viva vehicle, we can get 70 cars off the road, which will reduce congestion for everyone.

Defeating gridlock is going to take time, and vision, and money.  But given the huge price congestion is already costing, there’s really no alternative.

 

harsh winters can be a challenge

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

It takes a special kind of person to work in construction. Not only do they have to keep up with the physical demands of the job, they also have to deal with the elements including our hot humid summers and very cold winters.

Canadian winters can be very ruthless with high wind chills, heavy snowfalls, freezing rain and extremely cold temperatures. We’ve already witnessed all of the above this winter and Jack Frost has shown no signs of letting up as 2013 went out like a lion and 2014 came in much the same. If you ventured outside during the recent deep freeze, you know just how unbearably cold it can get.

Despite the inconvenience of the freezing temperatures, our vivaNext projects continue to move along. Our contractors brave the elements all year long in order to keep construction progressing to achieve the end result, a faster more convenient rapid transit system that will serve the public for generations to come.

For those of us already counting down the days until spring [70 to be exact], remember that in a few short months, the leaves will be unfurling and the tulips will be poking up through the ground. Nothing lasts forever, not even winters in Canada, although some days it feels like spring is an eternity away.

We look forward to warmer weather and sunny skies not only so we can get out and enjoy our short lived Canadian summers but also so the vivaNext construction projects can continue full speed ahead in ideal weather conditions.