Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

seeing the transformation unfold on highway 7 west

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

click here to see the video of 2014 Vaughan rapidway construction

we’ve been busy this year

Construction is well underway for the first phase of vivaNext rapidways in the City of Vaughan, and the transformation can be seen along Highway 7 West. Check out our latest video for an up-close look at the milestones we’ve accomplished this year. Although construction will continue throughout the winter months from Edgeley Boulevard to Bowes Road, here’s an update on the progress made in 2014:

  • Traffic has been shifted east of Jane Street to its final configuration, so that work in the centre of the road [including platforms and canopies] can begin in 2015.
  • As part of the 8-metre expansion of the Canadian National Railway [CN] MacMillan Bridge, we poured over 800 tonnes of concrete to create new columns and bridge pier caps.
  • Underground infrastructure revitalization continues – utility, telecommunications and storm sewer relocation is approximately 80% completed.
  • Road widening is completed and base-layer paving is 90% finished between Jane Street and the CN Bridge. Paving activities will continue in 2015.
  • In order to preserve the existing Black Creek and Hillside Culverts, retaining walls were built. In total, five retaining walls have been completed along the corridor with a few more set to get started in 2015.
  • Important traffic and pedestrian changes can be seen at several intersections. Motorists are benefiting from new turning movements and pedestrians now have two-stage crossings.

We know construction can be messy and disruptive at times, and we thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue the transformation. For up-to-date information on construction progress and activities, visit http://www.vivanext.com/hwy7progress.

 

building great cities

Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Building Great Cities

York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy is how our Region is making sure there will be room for our growing population to live, work and play, while also protecting our sensitive lands and green zones. As our Region grows, new homes, workplaces, retail and recreational facilities are being established all along the corridors, and clustered in higher density centres in Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham and Newmarket.  And to make it easier for people to get where they want to go, without always needing to get in their car, rapid transit corridors featuring Viva’s comfortable Bus Rapid Transit service will link those centres.

Centres and Corridors has been a key component of Regional Council’s strategic priorities, and the amount of development actively underway in all the centres shows that great progress is already being made. But what are the steps required behind the scenes, to create the kinds of communities that are taking shape in the centres?

The first step, and one that was approved long ago, is that Regional Council provided strategic direction confirming the Centres and Corridors plan as the foundation for the Region’s Official Plan.  The Provincial Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe reinforces the principles of increased intensification and city-building, and specifically identifies the four centres as “urban growth centres.”

Included in the Provincial Growth Plan are targets for the number of people and jobs to be supported per hectare. The Region’s Official Plan includes these targets, and also establishes policies to encourage transit, pedestrian-friendly street designs, and mixed-use development.

Building on the Region’s policies, each municipality then has to review their own official plan to make sure it conforms and supports the Region’s plan. Municipalities then develop secondary plans, which set out specific land use rules and targets for defined areas including the centres.  Secondary plans shape future development, providing guidance on minimum densities, building heights, streetscaping and other strategies to encourage welcoming, pedestrian-friendly development.

Once the general rules for land use have been developed, municipalities and the Region then actively work to attract new employers and development investments.  Economic Development experts work with their Planning Department colleagues and with potential investors, to create new or expanded work opportunities.  A key driver for many of the new employment opportunities that have already been announced in York Region is the proximity to rapid transit, and the availability of a strong, educated workforce.

And the last component of our multi-pronged approach is to ensure that new housing options are available all along the corridors and in the centres.  We know that people want to live relatively near to where they work, with a short commute being highly valued.  The new housing developments that are springing up near our vivaNext routes are already providing very attractive options for people wanting an urban home, with great access to transit and work.

City-building isn’t a short-term process, but with all these components working together, bit by bit our centres and corridors are being transformed into exciting, urban places, while protecting and respecting existing developments and our natural environment.  For everyone, that means more options, more choices, and linking it all together, more Viva.

 

design it, then build it – simple, right?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

design it, then build it - simple, right?

You probably know where we’re going with this. It’s not simple to design and build a major transportation project, but we’re getting better and better at it.

It starts with a consistent vision of a transit system that matches plans for the future by the Province and the Region. A plan for making the vision a reality comes next, as dedicated lanes for Bus Rapid Transit – rapidways – connecting York Region’s key urban centres. It’s more than transit though, with designs including updated infrastructure and pedestrian-friendly, attractive surroundings. The 34 kilometres of rapidway and 37 vivastations are divided into design-build projects, based on funding and logistics. Closing roads entirely isn’t an option, so construction timelines are longer to allow for keeping lanes open as much as possible, and projects are staggered so that there isn’t too much work being done, all at once.

We select a contractor through a competitive bidding process. This is an important point in the project, because what is or isn’t included in the contract can impact the timing or costs of a project at a later point. We have highly-skilled engineering, construction and procurement professionals whose advice ensures we procure the project accurately and fairly. Even so, there are an enormous amount of details to consider, and every aspect needs careful thought. The procurement of each project has been tailored to its particular circumstances, and has improved on the project before it.

For the first rapidway project, Highway 7 East, the utility work and the design-build of the project were each coordinated by a separate contractor at the same time. The intention was for a quick build, but it was a challenge for two separate contractors to schedule intertwined work in the same locations.

For the next two projects, Davis Drive and Highway 7 West [Interchange Way to Bowes Road], the same contractor coordinated the utility work and built the project. This helped the contractor to schedule the work, although there were still unexpected elements underground to deal with, as is the case with most construction projects. The contract for the latter project, Highway 7 West, also included more requirements for utility coordination and recognition of timelines needed for permits and relocating utilities.

We recently procured the contractor for the rapidway on Yonge Street, and even more was done to ensure the project runs smoothly. A Subsurface Utility Engineering [SUE] study was fully completed before we even issued the RFP, and the results of the study gave bidders a better understanding of the existing infrastructure, preparing them for the utility work included in the contract. As with the Highway 7 West contract, timelines allowed for permits and utility relocation, and in this case they were fully scheduled. A requirement was also added for an Independent Quality Certifier [IQC] to make it easier to monitor and audit quality of work – previously this was a combined effort.

So building it isn’t simple, but each project has helped improve the next, and we’ve already built and put into service 11 vivastations and 6 kilometres of rapidway. Each project has unique features and challenges, but the end results are worth it… we hope you have tried the improved service on Highway 7 East, as Viva now travels in its own dedicated lane!

 

next is now >> highway 7 in markham

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

next is now >> highway 7 in markham

We’re growing right along with you as we enjoy the next section of the rapidway, now open along Highway 7 from Highway 404 to Town Centre Boulevard.

Riders can now board Viva in the centre-lane rapidway, and vivastations are directly accessible from crosswalks at traffic lights. Not only is this section of Highway 7 now more efficient for pedestrians, cyclists, riders and drivers, but the landscape is being transformed with new trees and other greenery. Vivastations are in service at Allstate Parkway, Woodbine Avenue, Montgomery Court, and Town Centre Boulevard. New dedicated centre lanes for Viva allow riders to enjoy faster and more consistent travel times through this congested area. Our customers are telling us “@YRTViva Love how fast the bus is on the new extended rapidway. Got to the mall really quick!”

Markham is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Ontario, home to over 332,000 people, covering 212 square kilometres of land. More than 400 companies are headquartered in Markham due to a well-defined transportation and communication network, high quality facilities, a diverse and highly educated labour force and pro-business environment. The vivaNext transformation of this urban corridor will help support growth, and reduce congestion to help make Markham, and the rest of York Region, a more inviting place to live, commute, shop and play.

For Highway 7 East, the future of rapid transit is here – next is now. Students are settled into school already, so here’s a [fun] lesson on history – watch our then, now & next transformation video of Markham and be sure to get out and experience the new rapidways this fall!

 

working together on transportation improvements in newmarket

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

working together on transportation improvements in newmarket

To help alleviate traffic congestion and provide convenient transit alternatives in Newmarket, vivaNext, York Region and the Town of Newmarket are investing in infrastructure and improving public transit in Newmarket.

While it may appear construction is taking place everywhere in Newmarket, a comprehensive coordination strategy was developed by York Region, vivaNext and the Town of Newmarket to better balance the need for necessary infrastructure improvements with the needs of our residents, visitors and commuters and to help manage travel demand in Newmarket, while minimizing the disruption to the community.

To support future growth and travel demand and to help reduce traffic congestion in Newmarket, road improvements are necessary and long overdue. A number of construction projects performed by York Region, Town of Newmarket and vivaNext are underway that will reshape and re-vitalize Newmarket. These road construction projects are a sound investment in Newmarket’s future.

To maximize as much work as possible during a short construction season, the majority of construction projects are done in the warmer months. Construction can be frustrating and we thank you for your patience as we work together to improve our roads and transit system so that Newmarket continues to be one the best place to live in Canada.

Information on the construction projects taking place within Newmarket are available at www.york.ca, www.vivanext.com, www.town.newmarket.on.ca.

 

who, what, where, why, when and how …..the 6ws of davis construction

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

click here for the video Davis Drive: building more than transit

With Davis Drive rapidway construction well underway, signs of the transformation can be seen along Davis from Yonge Street to Roxborough Road. It takes a lot to build a centre-lane bus rapidway and completely rebuild Davis from the ground up. This challenging project has layers upon layers of complexity and a lot of work underground had to take place first. Check out our latest video about how all these layers add up to a project that’s building more than transit.

A lot of questions can come from a project of this nature, and here at vivaNext we’re always happy to answer them. We thought it might be helpful to break down this complicated project into smaller pieces [like a story with chapters, if you will] to provide a clearer view of how we’re transforming Davis.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be using Twitter and Facebook to provide a unique behind-the-scenes perspective of the magnitude of work that’s been done under and above ground, the progress we’ve made, what’s to come and of course the end result! We will even toss in a few intriguing facts about Davis Drive and the Town of Newmarket that you may not have known.

What’s a story without pictures? As part of the story, we’ll provide visuals and use pictures to help showcase what’s going on in particular photos. We hope you agree with the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

If you have a question you would like answered as part of our photo series, please contact us through contactus@vivanext.com, send us a tweet or a Facebook message.

We hope you enjoy the story and that at the end of the last chapter, you see that the investment in modernizing our corridor, adding a rapid transit service and revitalizing the infrastructure, will go a long way to making sure Davis is built on a solid foundation that will serve the growing needs of Newmarket for many years to come

 

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 vivanext.com/yonge-street-richmond-hill.

 

take a tour of the new rapidway on highway 7

Monday, September 15th, 2014

video: Highway 7 East rapidway - Now Open - 2014

This morning, The Honourable Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation, announced the opening of the section of rapidway from Highway 404 to South Town Centre on Highway 7 East. He was joined by: The Honourable Michael Chan, MPP, Markham; Bill Fisch, Chairman and CEO, The Regional Municipality of York; Bruce McCuaig, President and CEO of Metrolinx; Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of the City of Markham.

Travelling along Highway 7, it’s hard to miss the beautiful and functional vivastations in the centre median. These stations are making a huge contribution to the transformation of our community in Richmond Hill and Markham, so let us take you on the same guided tour as our dignitaries took this morning for an inside look at the benefits and attributes of these stations.

The first thing you’ll notice as you cross to a station is how big and airy the canopy is at 28m [92’] long and 5m [16’] high. The curved glass above the platform provides both weather protection and a sense of space at the same time and satisfies long-term needs as platforms accommodate two Viva vehicles at once and in future will be able to accommodate Light Rail Transit [LRT]. The platform is approached by a gently sloped ramp with handrails on both sides, making it fully accessible to all, whether they’re walking, pushing a stroller, or in a wheelchair or scooter. Passing by the familiar Viva fin and planter boxes with greenery, you’ll next come to an illuminated wall map of the YRT\Viva system.

Next on the tour is a bank of fare equipment, including a Ticket Vending Machine [TVM], a Ticket Validator [TV], and two PRESTO machines. Once you’ve paid your fare, you’ll move to the Fare Paid Zone [FPZ], which is clearly shown by being paved with a different coloured tile on the ground, as well as by a curved sign above. This area needs to show as distinct, because YRT fare rules require passengers to have paid their fare before moving into the FPZ.

Once you’ve paid your fare, you’re free to make yourself comfortable on the platform until the next bus arrives. We’re making it easy for you to know how long you’ve got to wait, with a large Variable Message Sign [VMS] projected from the canopy. The VMS scrolls through the upcoming Viva arrivals, telling you exactly when the next bus will arrive. Because the VMS system is connected to the GPS technology in our Viva vehicles as well as to the central transit scheduling software, it’s constantly updated to provide accurate and real-time information.

If you decide to sit on a bench or get comfy out of the elements, the shelters have been designed with passenger comfort as a priority. The heated glass enclosure is well lit, and accessed by two push-button automatic doors. The heaters – which will be appreciated later this year – automatically turn on if someone enters the enclosure, and if the temperature in the enclosure feels lower than 10 degrees Celsius. Recycling and garbage disposal units on the platforms make it easy to keep these lovely stations clean.

The entire platform will be well lit, with lighting inside the canopy as well as on the platform.  And to enhance your feelings of comfort and security, the back of the platform is protected from Highway 7 traffic by a barrier wall topped with a guardrail, and there are multiple security features including cameras and an emergency call button.

Last but not least, to help you stay oriented, wayfinding signage will show you where the buses will stop, and other features including the way to the crosswalk.

It’s hard to do the stations, and the rapidway justice with written descriptions, so here’s a video showing you some of the action involved in completing this section of the rapidway. One of the regular passengers tweeted that “it has cut my travel time in half, way to go!”

 

this is just the beginning

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

this is just the beginning

Over the next three years, the vivaNext system is really going to transform the look and feel of York Region’s Centres and Corridors, with new rapidways opening for service. And these new transit options are only the beginning of an expanding vivaNext network that’s being built for York Region commuters.

Here’s the rundown on what’s planned, and how your transit choices are going to be widened over the next few years as vivaNext continues to expand.

Rapidway projects are being built in the order that will create the most connectivity for the greatest number of people and get you past the worst traffic congestion. Check out the map to see how the phases are rolling out, and follow our colour-coding of projects:

The segments on Highway 7 East that are coloured green or orange are either in service or about to be. Construction is well underway along the yellow and purple segments on Davis Drive in Newmarket, and Highway 7 West in Vaughan. Davis Drive is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2015, and only a year later, Vaughan will have its first rapidway to meet up with the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension.

The design-build contract has been awarded for the pink segments on Yonge Street and designs are being finalized as crews begin preliminary work. In Newmarket, work requiring Yonge Street lane closures has been postponed until next year.

But that’s not all – look at the blue segments on the map. These segments are also all designed and funding is committed, with planning well underway for construction to start in 2015. The projects marked in blue include two rapidway segments on Highway 7 West, which will extend on either side of the VMC rapidway. When it’s complete in 2018 this whole section will run over 15 km from Pine Valley to Yonge Street. Another blue segment will extend the Highway 7 East rapidway in Markham from the existing Warden Station on Enterprise Boulevard, to Unionville GO Station.

Other projects that will eventually create a full network across the Region and connecting to other transit systems are grey on the map. Since we don’t have funding secured for all of them yet, we can’t confirm the actual timing.

Of these unfunded segments, two are the top priority. The first priority is the Yonge North Subway Extension, which will provide a critical link for passengers transferring between the vivaNext system and the TTC. Without this connection, vivaNext is missing a critical link that will really make our system a key part of the larger Greater Toronto transit network.

Another future route proposed is a rapidway along Major Mackenzie Drive, which would provide a major transit artery for all the growth taking place in that area. The Major Mackenzie rapidway would provide passengers with connections to the TYSSE, GO lines in both the east and west, and the Viva Highway 7 rapidway in both the east and west.

Imagine how this wonderful rapid transit network would make your life easier? We are working hard to bring it to life, so that everyone in York Region will have the choice to leave their car at home and hop on board Viva for a fast, reliable and comfortable ride, no matter where they want to go.

colour coding the rapidway

Friday, September 5th, 2014

colour coding the rapidway

As we’ve posted previously, Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] is an increasingly popular rapid transit technology around the world. One of the ways to make BRT truly rapid, as we’re doing here in York Region, is to provide vehicles with separate lanes so they can move easily through congested areas. And one way to make those lanes distinct without having an actual grade separation is to make them a different colour. This is why the vivaNext rapidways are bright red.

Colouring asphalt anything other than basic black isn’t as easy as you might think. Here’s what we’ve done to get our rapidways red.

Painting asphalt isn’t an option [if only it was this easy]. Although it’s something we all take for granted, creating a long-lasting, durable asphalt mix for the conditions along a busy roadway like Highway 7 is actually a highly specialized science. The surface on roadways that carry a lot of heavy traffic, especially traffic that is constantly turning and braking or accelerating at intersections, needs to be exceptionally strong to prevent cracking, rutting and shifting. Canadian climate conditions, including extreme temperature changes, hot sun, frost, and salting over the winter, all impose significant challenges. Creating an asphalt mix to take these conditions without requiring frequent maintenance is something that specialized pavement designers work hard to achieve, with the technology constantly evolving.

So adding in the requirement to make it a distinct colour definitely adds to the complexity.

Using red pavers or bricks would not provide a sufficiently durable driving surface long term, and would be extremely costly to install and maintain.  One approach that is used when the colour is needed in very limited areas, such as crosswalks or bike lanes, is a material called “street print.” But this material, which is actually a special top layer that’s heated right into the asphalt once it has been imprinted with a brick or paver pattern, would be too complicated to use along the full length of the rapidways [although we are using it for our crosswalks], and again would not be durable enough.

So the best approach is to tint the black asphalt, which we’re accomplishing in a couple of ways. Asphalt is composed of a mixture of sand, stones and asphalt cement binding it together. By adding reddish stones rather than grey ones, we can give an underlying red tint to the asphalt, especially as it wears.

The more complex adjustment is to add a special red pigment. The challenge with the pigment is to be careful in how much we add:  too little and the colour doesn’t come through, but too much and the overall durability of the asphalt could be compromised. The pavement design team has worked long and hard through a highly technical process to get the balance just right.

We’re delighted with their final results, which gives us what we need: a clearly defined rapidway that stands out from the regular traffic lanes, with a long-lasting and durable surface, at an affordable price. Drivers need to remember as they make turns from side streets along Highway 7 to follow the white skip lines and not turn onto those red rapidways!  Although beautiful, they are red for safety too!