Posts Tagged ‘Richmond Hill’

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.


rolling out a new phase of rapid transit in Vaughan

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

rolling out a new phase of rapid transit in Vaughan

The next phase of Viva is extending both east and west in Vaughan and Richmond Hill. We were excited to announce this week that EDCO has been awarded the $333.2 million contract to design, build and finance the second phase of the Highway 7 West rapidway.

The first phase of rapidway is well underway in the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC], with the vivaNext rapidway between Jane Street and Bowes Road scheduled to open in Fall 2016, and the section west of Jane being coordinated with the opening of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE].

phase two

Phase two of the Highway 7 West rapidway will emerge from both sides of the current construction. It will extend west from the VMC, over Highway 400 all the way out to Helen Street, and it will expand east to Yonge Street along the existing Centre Street and Bathurst Street Viva route.

making connections

Extending the rapidway will connect riders from Woodbridge, Concord and Thornhill to the Spadina/University Subway line at the new VMC subway station, and will also connect riders to the rest of York Region via the Richmond Hill Terminal at Yonge Street.

The project involves widening Highway 7, Bathurst Street and Centre Street to add 12 kilometres of dedicated rapidway lanes for Viva rapid transit vehicles PLUS 10 new vivastations, PLUS new bike lanes PLUS pedestrian walkways and sidewalks.

partnering with contractors

As with our previous rapidway projects, this is a public-private partnership. One key difference is that along with the design and build requirements, the contractor is required to finance this project. YRRTC will be the project manager, controlling and approving the design and construction, financial management, and community relations. Metrolinx will own the assets of the rapidway infrastructure, and YRT/Viva will operate transit on the rapidways, and maintain the stations. On regional roads like Highway 7, Centre Street and Bathurst Street, York Region will maintain the road and rapidway.

more than a third of York Region’s rapidways

This project represents more than a third of the total 34 kilometres of rapidways being built, and with this contract awarded, all of our rapidway projects are on the way, except Highway 7 East, which is done!

To learn more about the Highway 7 West, phase two rapidway project, and to sign up for updates, visit


when transit is the star, good things happen

Friday, July 17th, 2015

more riders transit legacy

One of the most valuable legacies of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games is the reliance on transit. In fact, the first vivaNext rapidway on Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill is actively being used during the Pan Am Games.

And it turns out there’s more to the story.

In an article in this morning’s Globe and Mail, urban transportation reporter Oliver Moore points out that the experience of all these Pan Am transit riders is painting a picture of how great having effective efficient mass transit can be when transit systems are in place, and when transit is actively supported and promoted.

For example:
• The transit agencies across the GTHA are working together more
• People are changing their habits as drivers become riders
• Buses on HOV lanes maintain schedules or are often ahead of schedule

“For riders, it is a glimpse of how fast and reliable surface transportation can be – offering a real alternative – if it does not have to compete with other traffic,” notes Moore.

Now’s that’s a legacy we @vivaNext can get excited about!

Click to read the article.

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greenery all around us

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

greenery all around us

Most people see the environmental benefits of having greenery around us. Trees and shrubs help to filter the air and water, and provide shade and habitat for animals and birds. But when you look at a tree, shrub or plant, it doesn’t bring to mind the economy. Last year, a report from TD Economics calculated that in Toronto, a single tree returns from $1.35 to $3.20 per every dollar spent on maintaining the “urban forest,” and the returns for Halifax and Vancouver were even higher. It also noted the higher value of real estate in neighbourhoods with mature tree canopies.

There are environmental benefits and economic value, and then there’s the intangible – the way we feel when we’re on a tree-lined street and the satisfaction we get from watching the seasons change. We may not look forward to snow, but you can’t deny it looks nice on tree branches.

If you’ve ever planted a garden, you know that every plant isn’t always successful, especially after a harsh winter. Along the new Highway 7 East rapidway in Markham and Richmond Hill, we’ve planted almost 300 trees and thousands of perennials and grasses. We use soil cell technology to ensure trees have the best chance at survival, and the types of trees and shrubs are selected carefully. Even so, sometimes a few don’t make it through the winter, in which case we replace them under the two-year warranty we have for all of our trees, shrubs and plants.

In the next couple of weeks, our landscaping crews will be out on Highway 7 to help the new greenery on Highway 7 East thrive for many years to come. Whether you’re walking through a forest or travelling Highway 7 East, we hope you connect with nature now that spring is finally, [finally!] here.


earth hour – make it count

Friday, March 27th, 2015

earth hour 2015

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

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

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

as days get longer…

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

as days get longer

Days are getting longer, but for the next month or so we’re still travelling to and fro close to dawn and dusk, and right now there are snowbanks at every turn. So visibility isn’t great, but spring is on the way! Things are looking up, and it’s important that both drivers and pedestrians look up to see who’s on the other side of that snowbank, and to see that it’s safe to move forward. Let’s stay in step with those around us by keeping an eye out for one other and being as visible as possible.

On Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill, commuters might have more of a spring in their step, and it’s not just because they’re looking forward to better weather. Now that the rapidway is open, Highway 7 has many years of fast, convenient transit ahead, not to mention bike lanes and nice wide sidewalks. In some sections of Highway 7 it was truly a highway before construction with only traffic lanes and no sidewalks or bike lanes. Now, everyone has a choice in how they connect from A to B, and that’s something to look forward to.

To better weather, to more choices, and to safe travels throughout York Region!

For some tips on getting around on Viva, check out YRT/Viva’s video about dressing with safety in mind.


2014 – a year of action

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

2014 - a year of action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




yonge street rapidway – a key connection

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

video: Yonge St rapidway is on the way

Check out the newest vivaNext video featuring the Yonge Street rapidway project! This rapidway is a key part of York Region’s transit network, and will connect with the Richmond Hill Centre/Langstaff Urban Gateway at Highway 7 – a key Regional Centre with a variety of transit services and transportation options.

Now that the contract has been awarded to RapidLINK, our next step will be to work closely with the contractor to finalize the design of the rapidway on Yonge Street and develop a construction schedule. Over the summer and through the fall and winter months, crews continue working along the Yonge Street corridor to prepare for construction.

During this pre-construction phase, these teams will more accurately document existing conditions above and below the ground. This work is mainly conducted during off-peak driving hours and sometimes requires lane closures.

Building a roadway is a process that follows clearly defined steps and uses modern technology, equipment and materials. Although we have access to some of the best, most experienced construction contractors, building the rapidway down the middle of some of the Region’s busiest roads is a complicated undertaking. That said, we have an experienced team of dedicated staff and constructors who are on board and up for the challenge.

During construction, we realize that it’s important to minimize the impact on businesses and people using the road by keeping travel lanes open whenever possible and safe to do so. For more information on the project and construction information, visit