Posts Tagged ‘rapid transit’

CN Bridge expansion: when transit intersects

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Did you know that as part of vivaNext’s rapidway project on Highway 7 West in the City of Vaughan, construction is underway to expand the south side of the Canadian National Railway [CN] MacMillan Bridge? The bridge surface, located west of Keele Street will be widened approximately 8-metres to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

Aside from being one of the most widely-used bridges along Highway 7, most drivers may not even realize that each time they cross the bridge, they are driving over the CN MacMillan Rail Yard, the largest rail yard in Canada.

Named after former CN president, Norman John MacMillan, the yard measures approximately 6.5-kilometres in length and 1.6-kilometres in width and was developed in the late 1950s as part of CN’s redesign of the Toronto trackage network. The yard operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and handles over 1 million railcars per year to service local businesses in the Vaughan area, as well as the broader North American economy!

As part of the bridge widening, construction activities include:

  • removing the existing walls and sidewalks on the south side
  • backfilling with 8,000 tonnes of earth
  • pouring 4,000 tonnes of concrete to build walls, columns, sidewalks and bridge decks
  • embedding 300 tonnes of reinforcing steel and;
  • completing the surface finish with new light standards and pedestrian hand rails.

Sounds like a lot right? So how do we do this without impacting CN’s business?

During construction, rail yard operations along the 10 sets of tracks will be maintained, and the contractor will work closely with CN to coordinate activities around train schedules. The majority of the construction activity will happen below and underneath the bridge. Motorists will notice large equipment and construction vehicles such as large cranes, transport trucks, drill rigs and concrete pump trucks onsite for certain operations, including sub-surface drilling, pouring concrete and the installation of large pre-cast concrete sections.  With the increase in construction vehicles, safety awareness is important if you are travelling through the area.

In order to maintain traffic flow along Highway 7 during the bridge expansion, the centre median was removed earlier this year and traffic was shifted to the north side of the bridge. To further minimize disruptions, an access road off of Highway 7 is also being constructed for equipment and deliveries. Due to the nature of this work, there will be noise and vibration around the work area. Being mindful of our neighbours, noise and vibration monitoring will be conducted to ensure levels are kept within industry standards.

The first phase of the Highway 7 West rapidway in the City of Vaughan will extend 3.6 kilometres from Interchange Way/Edgeley Boulevard to east of Bowes Road. The project features three new rapidway vivastations, wider sidewalks, landscaped boulevards and transit connections to the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension and the York Region Transit Bus Terminal. The CN Bridge expansion work in Vaughan is expected to be complete in 2016.

For more information about vivaNext projects, visit vivanext.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

vivaNext goes to school

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Recent stories in our local media have described the exciting proposal put forward to York University and Seneca College to locate a satellite campus in York Region. Newmarket/Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and Markham all had strong submissions that each would offer all manner of benefits to York Region.  On Friday, April 24 they short listed the possible sites to include: Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Markham.

The fact that these proposals advanced is proof of the increasing urbanization of York Region, especially in its emerging centres in Newmarket, Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.  This increasing urbanization is good news in so many ways, including for young people who would like the option to attend post-secondary school closer to home.

VivaNext is a key part of bringing that urbanization to life.  By extending rapid transit routes into these key areas, a potential new university or college campus would more easily be able to attract faculty and staff as well as new students.  Having rapid transit on its doorstep is just one of the many reasons why these campus bids are so strong.

The long-term vision for York Region is to give people more choices, whether it’s where they live, work, shop or dine out – or go to school.  We’re seeing that vision come to life, block by block, with new developments taking shape all along the rapid transit routes and in the new centres.  And each new development, whether it’s residential, employment or retail, attracts even more economic growth. The new centres are already becoming increasingly important destinations, just as York Region had planned.

VivaNext is proud to be a key part of these plans. We’ll look forward to hearing the news later this spring where the future home of a college or university campus will be located.  And then, it will be our great pleasure to get those students and their teachers to class on time!

rapid transit is coming to yonge street

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

The next generation of rapid transit is coming to Yonge Street. We’re excited to announce that York RapidLINK Constructors have been awarded the $260.5 million design build contract for the York Viva Bus Rapid Transit [vivaNext] rapidways along Yonge Street in the Towns of Richmond Hill and Newmarket.

The project involves widening Yonge Street within Richmond Hill and Newmarket to accommodate approximately nine kilometres of dedicated rapidway lanes for viva rapid transit vehicles in the centre of the road as well as 10 new vivastations.

In Richmond Hill, the Yonge Street rapidway will extend 6.5 kilometres from Highway 7 to 19th Avenue/Gamble Road, including seven new vivastations. In the heritage area north of Major Mackenzie Drive, viva will continue to drive in mixed traffic as it does today.

In Newmarket, the rapidway will extend 2.4 kilometres on Yonge Street from just south of Mulock Drive to Davis Drive, and will include three new vivastations. Construction is expected to begin later this year, and be completed by the end of 2018.

This is an important project that will benefit the local economy for generations and will support the significant development and growth of these communities by reducing congestion and providing commuters with a better way to get around.

To learn more about the Yonge Street project and sign up for project updates, visit vivanext.com.

 

transforming vaughan

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

VivaNext is committed to designing and delivering an exceptional rapid transit system – one that will help shape growth in our communities, connect York Region’s urban centres and provide faster, more reliable and congestion-free trips. The vivaNext rapidway in Vaughan is more than just a transit project. It also includes urban design elements such as pedestrian-friendly boulevards, wider sidewalks, attractive landscaping, bicycle lanes and green open spaces for the whole community to enjoy. Check out this video and take a ride with us along the corridor to see what is happening.

As you can see, the transformation along Highway 7 West is well underway. Last year, in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] area (also known as phase one of the vivaNext project in Vaughan) crews were busy removing signs, and relocating utilities in preparation for construction.

This year, you will see significant construction activity in this segment. Traffic lanes will be shifted and bus stops will be relocated in order for crews to continue infrastructure work for hydro, gas, storm drains, watermains and begin road widening. Construction has also started on the south side of the Canadian National Railway [CN] Bridge, located west of Keele Street. The bridge surface will be widened approximately 8-metres to accommodate dedicated rapidway lanes, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

In the phase 2 area east and west of VMC, crews will be working intermittently along the corridor on preliminary construction activities such as soil sampling and other environmental investigations.

Work on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] also continues this year.  When completed, 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.

Throughout construction, we’ll keep everyone informed and minimize disruptions as much as possible for those who live, work and commute in Vaughan. For more information on any of these projects, or to sign up for construction notices so you can stay in the loop, visit vivanext.com.

spring has arrived on davis drive

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s very excited to see the long harsh winter [or “polar vortex” as the media described it] come to an end. The bone-chilling temperatures were all too frequent this winter and I’ve almost forgot what weather in the positive double digits feel like, but we are excited to see the sunshine!

While it may not feel like spring has completely sprung yet, the extra daylight and warmer temperatures are a welcoming addition to each day.  We are embracing this nicer weather at vivaNext and are gearing up for a very busy construction season on Davis Drive.

This year the transformation will continue to take shape with significant work set to get underway. Road widening and base layer paving will be a major focus this year. You’ll also see finished boulevards in sections. Planters with interlocking paving stones and concrete sidewalks will be installed in these areas.

For larger operations, some work is required deep underground. This year multiple closures on side streets that intersect Davis will be required for several different operations. The most up-to-date details on all the road closures off Davis Drive are available at vivanext.com.

It’s also necessary at times to close or relocate bus stops and shelters so construction crews can gain access to work sites and to ensure the public is kept safe during construction. To find out if a bus stop has been moved to a temporary location please watch for signs that will direct you to the closest open bus stop. There’s a lot going on out there so we’ve made a short video to assist you with what to look for when a bus stop has been relocated.

Updates about all of this work will be made available as they happen. If you have questions or concerns please contact your Community Liaison and sign up for construction updates to get the latest construction information at vivanext.com.

 

earth hour 2014 – celebrating our commitment to the planet

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Nelson Mandela – “Let us stand together to make of our world a sustainable source for our future as humanity on this planet”

Earth Hour is an annual global event that is held on the last Saturday of each March to raise awareness of climate change, and to encourage each of us to make choices that will lessen our impact on the environment. This remarkable initiative first began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 with 2.2 million Sydneysiders [A native or inhabitant of Sydney, Australia] and 2,100 businesses taking part. To date it has grown to over 6950 cities and 152 countries worldwide.  In 2012 Vancouver was recognized as the first Global Earth Hour Capital. The City of Vancouver has set green targets of being a global leader on climate-smart urban development. Vancouver aims to have all newly constructed buildings be carbon neutral in their operations by 2020.

In reflecting on the true meaning of Earth Hour it raises the question – why wait until March 29 at 8:30pm to make a difference in saving energy or working to reduce climate change? Why not make small changes throughout the year? Small changes like carpooling or taking public transit will help reduce vehicle emissions and pollution. We are seeing these everyday changes right here in York Region with a 38% increase in ridership and over 22.7 million riders on YRT\Viva since 2005.  With the section of the rapidway that is open on Highway 7, you can hop aboard a Viva bus and cut your commute time by up to 40% during the rush hour commute.

Once vivaNext rapidway construction is completed, the sustainable transformation of this urban corridor will support growth, and reduce congestion to help make York Region an even more inviting place to live, work, shop and play. These benefits extend well beyond York Region. For example, the rapidways will also play an important role in a seamless transit system across the GTHA, helping to reduce traffic congestion, increase productivity and provide sustainable alternatives to car use, which help reduce our environmental impacts.

If we all tried, even for one day, to reduce our environmental footprint it would be a symbolic demonstration of our commitment to reducing climate change.  Don’t forget to power down this Earth Hour, our planet will thank you.

 

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.