Posts Tagged ‘Richmond Hill’

designing for the future

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Who can remember? Not so long ago Highway 7 in Markham and Richmond Hill was a suburban highway: a few isolated developments, lots of parking lots and open fields, but no sidewalks, no plantings, no bike lanes–and certainly no dedicated rapid transit bus lanes. Just look at it now!

In only a few years from start to finish, construction begins and is completed on each of the rapidway projects. In the world of infrastructure renewal, vivaNext construction projects are known to be implemented very efficiently, and we’re doing everything we can to maintain that great reputation.

years of work are behind the design

What’s not so apparent to the public is the lengthy design process that happens long before construction starts. Design of the many engineering and architectural elements must take place stage by stage. Throughout, the designers need to balance staying true to the original vision with making it work in different conditions and geographical areas.

a variety of disciplines at work

VivaNext uses a multi-disciplined design team including: engineers who specialize in civil, traffic, structural, geotechnical, electrical and transit systems; architects; environmental consultants; landscape architects, security experts and more.

many stakeholders weigh in

At each stage, different options and features are reviewed, adjusted and improved with input from municipal staff, utility companies, local conservation authorities, property owners and others. Depending on the location of the project, specific design issues are addressed in conjunction with the owners of adjacent infrastructure including GO Transit, 407 ETR, CN, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

the stages of each project

The process is not a fast one; the Environmental Assessment process, which established the conceptual design for vivaNext, was begun in 2002, and the whole process for any one segment from Preliminary Engineering to service start may take 6 or more years. Here’s an overview of the stages each of our projects go through, before shovels can hit the ground.

•    Environmental Assessment [EA]: The EA examines alternatives and identifies a preferred design. The vivaNext conceptual design shows the approach for individual segments like the number of rapidway and traffic lanes, boulevards and planting zones and the arrangement of stops and stations. The EA then identifies potential design impacts on the natural and built environment, traffic, noise, drainage, property, etc., and proposed strategies to avoid or mitigate and monitor them.

•    Preliminary Design: This stage takes design to approximately 30% completion and establishes the outlines of the project including its alignment and profile, what additional property is needed to build the project, development of major components like bridges or culverts for water crossings, entrances and intersections, utilities, and listing permits and approvals.

•    Detail Design: This stage fleshes out the preliminary design for all elements. For example, preliminary design may identify that a high retaining wall will be needed at a specific location; 60% design will show the kind of foundation needed and the wall’s general construction; 90% design will show the colour and design of the material to be used on the outside of the wall, and 100% will show all details and specifications required to construct the work.

•    Issued-for-Construction Drawings: These are the final design drawings to be used by the contractors, once all approvals are complete.

By the time vivaNext is complete, all our projects will share the original design vision, but their individual design will reflect local requirements and various conditions. Each segment is tailor-made to be functional, convenient and beautiful, with the primary goal of providing a rapid transit system for the future. Which is, and always has been, the ultimate vivaNext design objective.

connecting the drops

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

connecting the drops

The importance of upgrading Canada’s infrastructure is everywhere in the news these days. Infrastructure includes everything from bridges to roads and transit, to utilities such as hydro lines, sewers and water mains. Each vivaNext project includes improvements to infrastructure and utilities, leaving a lasting legacy for residents and businesses. One of the most important pieces of infrastructure is a water main – bringing fresh water to your mealtime prep, your kids’ bath tub and even your local swimming pool. In Richmond Hill, the residents and businesses connecting to Yonge Street are getting a new, modern water main to prepare for future growth.

Although to some people it might not seem very glamorous, an important example of a major infrastructure improvement is the replacement of the Richmond Hill water main, which we’re doing as part of the vivaNext Yonge Street rapidway project. This work will replace 3.7 kilometres of water main along Yonge Street from just south of Garden Avenue [north of Highway 407] to Major Mackenzie Drive. The water main, which supplies water to the adjacent residents, is owned and maintained by the Town of Richmond Hill, with construction done by the vivaNext Design Build contractor.

Water main replacements, especially in busy thoroughfares like Yonge Street, require complex planning for design, staging and construction. As with all our work, we need to find a balance between a number of competing priorities. One priority is to maintain service to households and businesses who depend on the water main. Another priority is to get the work done in a way that minimizes disruption to traffic. And, as always, we need to plan the design and construction in a way that gets the most value for money, including future maintenance costs.

To avoid existing underground utilities and simplify construction, we’ll relocate the water main to run under the traffic lanes on Yonge Street. We also want to avoid locating it under the new planters that will be built along the sidewalk, in the event that future maintenance on the water main is needed.

Replacement water mains are generally located as close as possible to the original water main, to preserve existing connections to residences and businesses. As a result, construction proceeds more slowly to avoid any damage during excavation to the existing water main, which stays in use until the new one is ready for service.

To minimize disruption to traffic, workers will be building the new water main from inside a trench box, which significantly reduces the amount of space needed to carry out the construction compared to regular excavation. The benefit of constructing in less space is that fewer lane closures are needed during construction, which is critical on Yonge Street.

However, trench box construction has to move more slowly. The rigid trench box also makes it more challenging to work around conflicts with other buried infrastructure. From time to time we can expect progress to slow down while crews get around other underground utilities. Construction will be followed by a lengthy process of pressurizing, cleaning and testing, all to meet very strict government standards.

Once the new water main is ready to go, a new connection to each address along the main route will need to be made, along with additional connections to other water mains at intersections. Individual addresses are relatively straightforward to reconnect, but businesses and multi-unit residential buildings take longer, with connections to larger pipes and fire lines. This process of disconnection and reconnection will be planned ahead, with communication with each residence and business to minimize disruption.

We’re excited that the community is going to be getting a new water main, built to the most modern standards. Our team is working with the community during construction to help minimize any impacts to parking and driveways. And we’ll make sure there’s lots of clear signage to help guide you through construction areas.

It’s a huge project, and it’s going to be pretty messy out there for a while. But long term, it’s great news for the residents of Richmond Hill that this huge investment is being made in infrastructure. We hope this helps explain what the crews are doing out there, and how it makes a difference to the community. For more information on ongoing work be sure to sign up for email updates, and follow us on Twitter.


dive into summer

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

dive into summer

The towns and cities of York Region offer a wide range of indoor and outdoor athletic facilities which are open to the public throughout the summer months. Regardless of skill level, athletic prowess, or lack thereof, these destinations offer something fun and active for everyone. With easy access to our expanding Viva network, summer fun is right at your door.

Richmond Hill: The Wave Pool

York Region’s only indoor wave pool, The Wave Pool, is a destination with something to offer visitors of all ages. In addition to the central wave pool, this destination also features a twisting, 160-foot long water slide, a swirl pool and an on-deck sauna. If you’re looking for some family fun in a safe atmosphere, surf your way over to The Wave Pool.

Markham: Pan Am Centre

Built for the 2015 Pan Am games, the Pan Am Centre in Markham boasts an Olympic-sized pool with 10 lanes. A location suited for more experienced athletes, the Pan Am Centre hosts endurance lane swims throughout the week, on either a 25 metre or 50 metre course. However, if you consider yourself more of a spectator, the Pan Am Centre is home to a variety of competitions and events throughout the year.

Newmarket: Of Rock and Chalk

Located on Ontario Street, just off Davis Drive, Of Rock and Chalk is an indoor rock climbing facility in the heart of Newmarket. Decked out with over 46 different climbing routes, six different bouldering areas and a variety of other features, Of Rock and Chalk is guaranteed to be a fun time for the whole family. Additionally, Of Rock and Chalk offers a variety of courses and passes from a beginner’s course to individually booked climb time, making it an exciting challenge for people of all skill levels.

So whatever your activity while you’re out and about – chasing Pokémon, enjoying a community event or diving into your local pool – we at vivaNext are working hard on construction projects to add dedicated lanes for Viva to help you get there faster. We hope you’re enjoying this great summer!

- Sydney Grant, student Public Relations Coordinator

Happy Canada Day!

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Today, Canadians across the country are celebrating the 149th anniversary of confederation with a well-deserved sum-sum-summertime day off and long weekend.

At vivaNext, we’re happy and proud to be building rapid transit and creating jobs in wonderfully diverse and fast-growing York Region – the best place to live in Canada!

There’s a great selection of events to enjoy this weekend, including the public debut of the Pride of Canada Carousel. In place of the usual ponies, this incredible carousel includes 44 quintessentially Canadian characters, like a Mountie, a moose, a bumblebee and a beaver, to name a few. Check it out at the Markham Canada Day celebration, noon to 5:00 p.m., Friday July 1 at 162 Enterprise and Birchmount – Viva can drop you right at the door with fast, easy service.

Check out more local York Region Canada Day events in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Newmarket and Aurora – and in the nation’s capital.

As you take part in these celebrations, we wish you a fun, safe long weekend enjoying all the things Canada has to offer. Make your commute more enjoyable and take transit as part of your holiday adventures this weekend.


Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at


Yonge at heart

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Yonge at heart

At 220 years old, Yonge Street is one of the GTA’s oldest roads, and before it was a road it was likely a trail. Since the beginning, it’s been improved upon and extended. Transit has always been a component of the street, starting with horse-drawn stagecoaches, then streetcars, trains and buses. It’s always been a local road that people walk and bike along, as well as a commuting road for longer distances.

Today, Yonge Street is changing again. We’re building dedicated lanes for transit – rapidways – in Richmond Hill from Highway 7 to 19th/Gamble and in Newmarket from Savage Road/Sawmill Valley Drive to Davis Drive. It’s part of a big plan for a seamless transit system in York Region and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The Yonge Street rapidway will connect to the Highway 7 rapidways leading to Markham and Vaughan, and to the future Spadina Subway Extension and Yonge Subway Extension.

Once complete, Viva service along Yonge will have faster and more reliable travel times, and traffic congestion will be reduced. Modern transit will be on the doorsteps of people living and working along Yonge Street, and the tree-lined sidewalks and bike lanes will make Yonge an even more attractive, vibrant place to walk, shop and ride.  With people at all stages of life using this important street, transit continues to play a key role.

There is a lot of work happening in 2016, and we’re keeping everyone informed. You can find facts and maps on the project page on our website, and we’ll be at some local community events this summer. We’re also on Twitter and Facebook, and we have some project videos on YouTube. If you would like to contact us directly, our Community Liaisons are available to talk. If you sign up for email updates, we’ll let you know when work is happening and you’ll receive announcements, project newsletters, and an invitation to an open house we’ll be hosting later this year.


building complete streets in York Region

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

building complete streets in York Region

When looking at the award winning rapidway on Highway 7 in Richmond Hill and Markham, or Davis Drive in Newmarket, you’ll notice some features that make them different from your average street.

Wider sidewalks, more accessibility features, large attractive tree planters to provide a buffer between pedestrians and traffic, and bike lanes where possible, are all part of York Region’s urban design philosophy. It’s an approach that will shape the future of our communities and neighbourhoods, and it’s what Urban Planners call a ‘complete street’ – a street designed for everyone.

The complete street transformation is starting to unfold on Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket this year. Utilities are being relocated to accommodate the dedicated bus rapid transit lanes in the centre of the road. In time, the same thoughtful and elegant elements will take shape on one of the region’s most important roads for transportation, commerce and entertainment – the perfect place to stop, shop and dine – Yonge Street!

The complete street approach ensures that planners and engineers design and manage public infrastructure that takes in account users of all ages, abilities, and modes of travel.

One of the underpinnings of the complete street approach is to treat roads as destinations. With careful planning, roads can be public spaces with lush greenery and design features that engage people. Streets can be places to go instead of just surfaces to drive on. They should connect to businesses and places where people live, and also to trails, parks and other gathering places in order to help build a sense of community.

Another key consideration is accessibility, because whether you get around in a stroller, wheelchair, on transit, walking, cycling or driving, everyone needs safe and convenient options.

To learn more about complete streets and how they are being implemented across Canada and around the world, visit, or


Yonge Street >> the route to change

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Yonge Street >> the route to change

Yonge Street has a long and storied past as a hub for shopping, entertainment and culture along its full length. There are many examples of change and transition as you follow its route from the shores of Lake Ontario all the way north to York Region.

You’ll start to see another transformation this year in Richmond Hill and Newmarket as we begin work on a rapidway – dedicated lanes for Viva – along key segments of Yonge Street.

But how did we arrive at this plan? How does it fit in with the existing network?

There are many layers of planning that have helped develop our approach to meeting the transit needs of York Region and ensuring we’re ready for the increasing demand that comes with population growth.

It all stems from The Big Move, a plan by Metrolinx [a provincial agency] that outlines a vision for a connected transportation network in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], one of the largest and fastest-growing urban regions in North America.

Following Metrolinx’s plans, York Region’s Transportation Master Plan lays out the blueprint for addressing transportation and mobility needs of those living and working in York Region over the next 25 years. It plans for region-wide infrastructure that is welcoming to everyone, including drivers, transit customers, cyclists and pedestrians.

Out of that blueprint comes York Region’s Centres and Corridors Program. This plan identifies the key urban centres and corridors in York Region where new growth and development will be focused. These key urban centres are located in Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Markham, and Newmarket – and each of these municipalities have a need for managed growth and a connected transportation network for the future.

That’s where vivaNext comes in. We’re where the rubber hits the road, connecting urban centres along key corridors with fast, efficient rapid transit. We’ve done all the ground work, completing the comprehensive environmental assessments, reaching out to the community for input on the design, coordinating with the utility companies to adjust their infrastructure, and awarding the contract to get the job done.

We’ve already opened 8.6 km of rapidways on Highway 7 and Davis Drive, and we’re looking forward to the future transformation of Yonge Street.

To learn more about the Yonge Street rapidway and the construction activities ahead, visit our project page and subscribe for email updates.



Highway 7 East >> how we got here together

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Highway 7 East >> how we got here together

Before 2011, rapid transit projects were part a vision for York Region. To help set the stage for future growth, transit infrastructure was planned for York Region’s key towns and cities. Highway 7 East was the first to be built, and since construction began in 2011, has undergone a complete transformation.

At the west end, the rapidway has a remarkable [and accessible] two-story station taking pedestrians from Bayview down to Highway 7. And in the east the rapidway enters Markham Centre – a new development with a mix of commercial and residential development, including a new York U campus and a sports centre home to the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in Markham.

The transformation may be most dramatic in the east end of Highway 7 near Warden, where originally the road didn’t have any sidewalks or bike lanes, trees were scarce and transit was mixed with other traffic. Now, there are dedicated lanes for Viva, tree-lined sidewalks and defined bike lanes, welcoming transit riders, pedestrians and cyclists to the street. To see the dramatic transformation of Highway 7 at the intersection of Town Centre Boulevard, check out this timelapse video.

In the years to come, Highway 7 will continue to develop with a mix of residential, commercial and office buildings. It will be the place to be for shopping, dining, working and living. The vision of quick, comfortable transit close to where people live work, shop and play is now a reality.


bragging rights

Friday, October 16th, 2015

bragging rights

Well. We hate to brag, but we think those in the Highway 7 area would like to know – Roads and Bridges magazine has included the Highway 7 East rapidway project as #2 in their “Top 10 Roads” list for 2015.

The Highway 7 East project was recognized as a multi-modal “complete street” throughway, with the trade magazine noting the transit operations technology, the red-pigmented pavement, bike lanes and sidewalk landscaping.

Our office is located along the Highway 7 East rapidway, so we have to agree that the rapidway project has transformed Highway 7. West of Warden, the street has changed from being a highway with gravel shoulders, to being an attractive and safe place to walk, cycle, drive or ride Viva. The project included updated utilities, and has helped set the stage for the new developments along this important road.

Roads and Bridges voted the Highway 7 East rapidway project the second-best project in North America, and although it will always be number one in our books, we’re pleased to see it recognized by others in the industry.


sometimes construction is what you don’t see

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

sometimes construction is what you don't see

In many areas of the vivaNext projects, construction work is definitely visible – especially on Davis Drive and along Highway 7 West. In others areas – such as Yonge Street – it’s not quite so obvious. But work on Yonge Street has been going on this year for months, and it’s also starting up in phase 2 of the Highway 7 West rapidway.

Here’s some of what we’ve been up to – a very important part of construction – utilities!

there’s a lot going on underground

Upgrading the utilities to prepare for the growing population of York Region is a must. Plus, in order to upgrade utilities and widen the road for the rapidway, the existing utilities below the roadside have to be moved.

That’s because locating, upgrading and relocating utilities involves more than just building a road. And each utility has its own requirements.

utilities keep everything working

Utility work along the rapidway includes locating, removing and upgrading water mains and storm sewers, removing old copper cable and installing fiber optic cable for telecommunications, electricity, shutting down old gas mains and installing new ones, and it also includes upgrades and reconstruction to bridges and culverts and moving and upgrading traffic signals and street lights.

but first…

The first thing that happens along any new rapidway project is “utility investigations,” which means identifying where existing utilities are, to confirm what has to be moved. We can’t upgrade them until we find them, and some utilities can be as old as the road – installed before towns began documenting utility locations. So if you see crews digging small test pits along Yonge, you’ll know that’s a utility investigation where crews are making sure the utilities are where we think they are, and checking out what condition they’re in.

Next time you’re playing the game of Monopoly and you land on “Utilities,” feel lucky. “Utilities” are what keeps everything working at “Boardwalk,” “Park Place” and VivaNext!

For emailed updates about the progress of the various vivaNext projects: click here to subscribe.