Posts Tagged ‘rapid transit’

signs, signs, everywhere a sign

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

It seems anywhere and everywhere you go these days there’s a sign of some type that catches your eye. Whether it’s an advertising, traffic or directional sign, it’s meant to grab your attention. The purpose of all the signs out there is for people to watch and read them every day as they pass by, so that you know what is going on in their neighbourhoods.

With the large number of signs out there you may become desensitized, but the signs in construction zones are there for your safety. A busy season of road work is underway on several vivaNext projects, so we hope drivers and pedestrians pay close attention to construction markers and signs as they may change daily depending on the work.

For pedestrians, crossing between intersections is tempting. But during construction, it’s especially important to cross at crosswalks – lane closures can change frequently and although construction areas are well marked, drivers may not see a pedestrian crossing unexpectedly.  When large equipment and trucks are working in an area, it is especially confusing if workers are not expecting people in their work zones, so please make sure you are in a safe area, which will be well marked with a sign, of course.

We understand the frustration of being a driver stuck in traffic too, and we’re using large digital signs on the street, to let you know ahead of time about lane closures and detours, as well as providing current travel times.   We hope these signs help you plan your route accordingly and help you manage your travel times.  To receive regular updates about our construction projects, subscribe to our email notices. And for on-the-go traffic alerts about our construction, follow us on Twitter.

Whether you’re biking, walking or driving this summer, we hope you’re enjoying the weather, staying alert and following the signs that keep you safe.

BRT around the world

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

BRT around the world

The buzz surrounding Bus Rapid transit [BRT] systems that emerged in the early 2000s has not died down. Cities around the world are continuing to invest in rapid transit projects as an affordable and reliable way of connecting people to job opportunities and leisure activities. As of October 1st, 2013, the transit experts at EMBARQ have reported a total of over 300 bus corridors around the world, spreading to 163 cities across 38 countries.

I’ve discussed BRT systems around the world before, focusing on Curitiba, Brazil and South America’s leading role in rapid transit development. Now, cities in places from Indonesia to South Africa have bus corridors in operation that are positively impacting their growing urban landscapes. Check out some fast-facts on diverse cities who have embraced BRT and view images on our Pinterest board:

Johannesburg, South Africa [Rea Vaya]

  • Hit the road August 30, 2009
  • Rea Vaya means “we are going”
  • 48 stations and 10 median key stations are currently operational on 59 km of trunk routes
  • Commuters stand to save an estimated 73 million hours by shifting to BRT between 2007-2026. The travel time saved is equivalent to over 9 million 8-hour workdays [Embarq].

Brisbane, Australia [Brisbane Busways]

  • Hit the road September 13, 2000
  • A 25 km network of busways, including the South East, Northern and Eastern Busways

Jakarta, India [TransJakarta]

  • Hit the road January 25, 2004
  • First BRT system in Southern and Southeast Asia
  • 12 corridors in operation with over 200 stations along the closed trunk system
  • Carries more than 350,000 passengers daily

Mexico City, Mexico [Metrobús]

  • Hit the road June 19, 2005
  • Transports over 850,000 passengers daily
  • 2,000 days of lost work due to illness were prevented by reducing local air pollution and emission on the Metrobús Line 3 [Embarq]

Istanbul, Turkey [Metrobüs]

  • Hit the road September 17, 2007
  • Approximately 50 km in length and has 45 stations
  • Used by a number of Metrobüs lines
  • Carries around 800,000 people daily
  • In Istanbul, the average passenger on Metrobüs saved 28 workdays per year in reduced travel times [Embarq]

 

choosing plants for colour, form and structure

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

If you’ve ever tried to fit a load of plants from a garden centre trolley into the back of your car, you’ll know that 292 trees and 4,910 perennials and grasses is a lot of plant material.

That’s the number of individual plants that we’ll be installing in the planters in medians and boulevards along our Highway 7 rapidways between East Beaver Creek and South Town Centre Boulevard, from now until the end of June.

As we’ve described in earlier postings, the plant selections were made carefully, and reflect expertise from our Landscape Architects and York Region’s own Forestry Department.  Plants in the planters need to be hardy and strong to be able to withstand the tough conditions imposed by their surroundings.  Not only do they need to be generally low maintenance, but being so near traffic means they have to survive wind, drought and salt-spray in the winter.

Another key requirement is that trees under hydro lines need to be naturally compact so that they don’t conflict with the lines overhead and can grow to their full potential without needing to be pruned.

So the final list was carefully developed with all these requirements in mind, and includes a wide range of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses.  Trees include Kentucky Coffee tree, Ivory Silk Tree Lilac, and Ohio Buckeye, all of which are well regarded as decorative, long-lived trees.

Tree plantings will also include Skyline Honey Locust and Accolade Elm, both of which are prized as street trees for their vigorous growth and adaptability to tough growing conditions (and in the case of the latter, resistance to Elm disease).  Rounding out the tree selections, the Autumn Blaze Maple and Bradford Pear will provide colour interest and welcome shade.

Along the medians and in the boulevard planters, there is a wide range of grasses, shrubs and perennials which will provide form and colour throughout the year.  Most are familiar to home gardeners, such as varieties of red twig dogwood, shrub roses and Euonymus.  Mugho Pines and various forms of juniper will offer structure to our planters in the winter.  And grasses, daylilies and coneflowers will provide flower interest in the summer.

With all these plants the boulevards and vivastation platforms will be more appealing to pedestrians and transit riders, who will appreciate the shade and colour up close.  But even from a distance, the addition of new landscaping will make Highway 7 much more attractive and pleasant for everyone passing through, and will add to the feeling that this increasingly urbanized corridor welcomes all users.

 

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.