Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

winter work to make our spring schedule

Friday, January 31st, 2014

With its cold temperatures, snow and ice, winter is not the ideal construction season for roadwork in general, which is why most vivaNext construction is focused on other tasks for the next few months.  But to make sure we’re ready to get going on roadwork as soon as it’s warm enough next Spring, our crews and those of various utility companies are keeping busy this winter doing a range of activities.  Here’s what you can expect to see going on out there this winter.

A key task for all the vivaNext corridors is widening the roads so we can keep the existing number of travel lanes, plus make room for the rapidways and stations in the median.  But before we can get going on construction to make the roadways wider, we need to remove and relocate all the utilities that previously ran beside the curb of the existing roadways.  This step, which involves relocating a wide range of services including gas, hydro, telecommunications, water, and sanitary and storm sewer systems, requires painstaking coordination between contractors for our project as well as the utility companies and their crews.  With contractors needing to be spaced from one another by both time and distance, and there being a logical sequence in which the services get relocated, this is a hugely time-consuming process that will be ongoing throughout the winter in various locations.

The specific activities vary from corridor to corridor, involving different utilities and work at different stages of completion. Where hydro service is above ground, hydro relocations involve crews restringing the wires on the new poles once they’ve been installed in their new locations, and then removing the old poles.  Once the service is relocated on the new poles, crews then create the connections from the new service to individual addresses.

There’s also gas work underway in several areas along the vivaNext corridors, which involves relocating gas mains underground, and then attaching individual addresses to the new service.

And working in close coordination with the underground gas work are crews from the telecommunications companies, who are relocating their services into underground joint-use duct banks that the telecoms use. Constructing the duct banks involves much more work than simply stringing wires on poles, but the benefit is that with fewer poles along the side of the road there’s more potential to beautify the streetscape, which is an important objective for our project.

Finally, the last part of this complicated dance of roadside work involves our own crews who are busy relocating sanitary sewers and storm sewer systems and watermains.

All of this work is carefully planned out one step at a time and coordinated between our builder and the utility companies, then carried out in conditions that involve extra challenges due to the need to keep the ground warm enough to work in.  But it will be worth it, since the heavy road widening and construction is best done in the warmer weather.  And once it comes, we’ll be ready to go, widening the roads so that the rapidway stations can be installed.

So watch out for all the crews who are out there working this winter, and know that their work is an important part of the vivaNext schedule.

watching the transformation unfold

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

As you travelled on and around the busy corridor of Davis Drive last year, you undoubtedly noticed the significant construction activities underway. You may also be wondering what has been completed so far.

A lot of progress was made on the project this year and a number of milestones were achieved, all of which clears the way for the 2014 construction season. 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.

In addition, Parkside Drive was re-aligned with Longford Drive as a full four-way intersection. The re-alignment eliminated one set of traffic lights and improves overall traffic flow in the area.

We captured a number of these accomplishments on video and condensed them into a short clip for your viewing pleasure. The investment in modernizing our roads and revitalizing Newmarket’s infrastructure will go a long way to making sure Davis Drive is built on a solid foundation that will serve the growing needs of Newmarket for many decades to come. We look forward to building on the progress made and advancing the  bus rapid transit project bringing Viva service to Davis Drive. Thank you for your patience as we complete the transformation.

 

looking back at a busy year in vaughan

Friday, January 24th, 2014

The transformation along the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] corridor has begun. And 2013 was a busy year with vivaNext rapidway construction underway along Highway 7 West. Crews worked to remove signs, test soil and begin utility relocation to prepare for construction. Check out this video to see all the hard work that took place.

Although colder temperatures are here to stay, it doesn’t mean our work is done for the season. Throughout the winter, hydro, gas and telecommunications installations and relocations will continue, and we’ll also be busy with CN Bridge work on Highway 7.

Preliminary construction activity will also continue this winter in the second phase of vivaNext rapidway construction along Highway 7 West. This phase includes approximately 12 kilometres of rapidways on Highway 7 West from Helen Street to Edgeley Boulevard, and from east of Bowes Road to Yonge Street, including parts of Bathurst Street and Centre Street. During the winter months, you can expect to see contractors and surveyors walking along the corridor, reviewing designs, taking photos and gathering data.

The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] project also celebrated a major milestone at the end of last year. In November, tunnel boring machines [TBMs] “Yorkie” and “Torkie” finished their tunneling journey north to VMC station. Together, these TBMs tunnelled over 6.4 km of twin tunnels for this project. Way to go! Take an inside look at TBM tunnelling for the project, including new footage of the inside operation of the TBMs and four separate TBM breakthroughs for the tunnelling in York Region.

When complete, 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.

Stay in touch with us over the winter! Coping with construction is a lot easier when you know what to expect, where, and for how long.  For an in-depth look at different elements of vivaNext projects, plans, designs and ongoing activities, visit vivanext.com and subscribe to receive construction notices for work happening in your area.

 

time is money: why gridlock hurts us all

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

How to reduce the gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area is a topic that is getting a lot of air-time from commentators of all descriptions.  And for good reason – gridlock has been described by the Toronto Board of Trade as costing the GTA’s economy more than $6 Billion a year.

How those numbers are calculated, and what lies behind them, isn’t always so clear.  One of the best breakdowns that I have read is the paper developed by the Toronto Board of Trade last year urging governments to invest more in transit. The paper, called Let’s Break the Gridlock provides this description of how gridlock costs us all time – and how that time costs money.

The biggest concern about gridlock in Toronto from an economic perspective is that the increasingly clogged roads slow down business, and therefore undermine profits.  These so-called “congestion costs” affect different industries in different ways, each with their own price tag.  For example, in an economy that is increasingly based on “just in time” strategies, businesses order extra stock or supplies or equipment as it is needed instead of warehousing it. But if the delivery is unreliable, businesses will need to order earlier, tying up money in extra goods and paying for warehousing.  That costs extra money, and those increased prices will be passed on to the customer.

Another huge price tag associated with gridlock is how long it takes businesses to actually move their goods around.  The congestion costs hurt businesses in many ways such as increased shipping and fuel costs, higher labour costs per shipment due to less productive drivers, and reduced travel speeds.  Big shippers who need to deliver their products to small businesses throughout the GTA, for example soft-drink bottlers who need to make deliveries to many small convenience stores and restaurants across the region, face significantly higher costs due to congestion, and the snarled roads their drivers travel.  They can make fewer deliveries per day, and each delivery costs more.

And for employers, employee recruitment is negatively impacted by the difficult commutes faced by so many in the GTA.  As the Board of Trade paper notes, the lack of transit is a serious barrier for employers in hiring skilled young professionals.  And nowhere is this problem more severe than in the 905 areas, where employers have realized that the lack of rapid transit actually adds to the cost of doing business in the suburbs.  In fact, employers are increasingly seeing the benefits of having nearby transit, so that they can attract the best employees.

With this last reason in mind, we’re fortunate that York Region is planning for the future with vivaNext.  We’re going to have great rapid transit when the construction is complete, so that people can move around our region and make convenient connections across the GTA.  And with every full viva vehicle, we can get 70 cars off the road, which will reduce congestion for everyone.

Defeating gridlock is going to take time, and vision, and money.  But given the huge price congestion is already costing, there’s really no alternative.

 

keeping you warm out there

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

This has been a really cold winter so far, and there’s still a lot more winter to come.  Fortunately for our viva riders on the newly opened Highway 7 rapidway, keeping you warm was one of our priorities when we designed the new median stations.  Like everything else with vivaNext, a lot of engineering analysis and planning was done to ensure the enclosures provide the right level of comfort in the winter.  Here’s the background.

When we opened the prototype vivaNext station at Enterprise and Warden, we used a well-regarded heater that our original analysis showed would keep things adequately warm.  But at 1000 watts, the heater wasn’t quite powerful enough to provide the level of comfort we wanted to achieve.  So when it came time to design the shelters for the larger rapidway program, we went back to the drawing board.

First, we determined how warm we wanted to make the shelters. Given that most people are only waiting for a few minutes, we didn’t want to make the shelters so warm that people would need to take off their coats.  Bearing this in mind, we decided that the right target would be to heat the shelters to 10 degrees Celsius.

Next, we needed to find a technology that would be energy efficient: with the enclosures’ semi-outdoor design, using traditional space heaters would, in addition to requiring exhaust systems and airflow, be very inefficient. We decided to use radiant heaters, which work by projecting heat energy directly onto the people in the shelter (if you’ve watched your kids play hockey at a rink, you’ll know how effective this kind of heater can be).  Another benefit is that radiant heaters quickly ramp up to full power but can be shut off quickly as well, conserving energy.

Last, we needed to determine how many heaters we’d need to install to achieve our target temperature.  We did a computer simulation of the bus shelter, programming in local weather data to assess the thermal conditions in the shelter for every hour throughout a typical year.  The model took into consideration the concrete and glass design of the shelter, as well as replicating wind speeds and temperatures.

Using all this information, we decided that four heaters, each providing 3000 watts of power, would be sufficient to achieve the 10 degrees target: that’s 12,000 watts per enclosure (a typical electric fireplace is between 750 and 1500 watts). Sensors on the units detect when someone walks into the enclosure, starting the heater; if the sensors don’t detect any other movement, the heaters will shut off after 30 minutes.   And to help keep the warmth in the enclosures, we’ve installed push buttons on the doors so they close automatically, as well as installing winter covers over the ventilation louvers on the doors.

We hope you are pleased with the comfort we’ve been able to design into the shelters, and are happy to make winter a little warmer for our viva riders.

 

harsh winters can be a challenge

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

It takes a special kind of person to work in construction. Not only do they have to keep up with the physical demands of the job, they also have to deal with the elements including our hot humid summers and very cold winters.

Canadian winters can be very ruthless with high wind chills, heavy snowfalls, freezing rain and extremely cold temperatures. We’ve already witnessed all of the above this winter and Jack Frost has shown no signs of letting up as 2013 went out like a lion and 2014 came in much the same. If you ventured outside during the recent deep freeze, you know just how unbearably cold it can get.

Despite the inconvenience of the freezing temperatures, our vivaNext projects continue to move along. Our contractors brave the elements all year long in order to keep construction progressing to achieve the end result, a faster more convenient rapid transit system that will serve the public for generations to come.

For those of us already counting down the days until spring [70 to be exact], remember that in a few short months, the leaves will be unfurling and the tulips will be poking up through the ground. Nothing lasts forever, not even winters in Canada, although some days it feels like spring is an eternity away.

We look forward to warmer weather and sunny skies not only so we can get out and enjoy our short lived Canadian summers but also so the vivaNext construction projects can continue full speed ahead in ideal weather conditions.

 

managing the vivaNext plan

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

When I first joined the vivaNext team, it was pretty small since we were still at the early stages of our rapid transit program.  Now, with an overall team of nearly 78 at York Region Rapid Transit Corporation (YRRTC); and many more staff and experts allocated to the projects through the construction contractors, all these people are working on the vivaNext plan which is going flat out, with planning, procurement, design and construction activities underway concurrently.  Here’s the rundown on what we’re doing now, and a preview on some of our other projects you’ll hear more about soon.

The most visible parts of vivaNext – our rapidway construction projects on Highway 7 East and Davis Drive in Newmarket – are definitely a major focus for our team, but they’re only part of what we’ve got going on these days. Moving a major infrastructure project like a rapidway segment forward from the early design stages to the introduction of service requires years of careful planning and oversight, starting with preliminary design and environmental assessments years before construction can start.   The same general work plan is currently being followed for the remainder of the Highway 7 rapidway (opening next year) and along Davis Drive in Newmarket.  Project management for our active construction projects involves a large part of our team, including engineering, property, finance and communications staff.

In addition, we’re in the early stages of pre-construction for the rapidway on either side of the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) on Highway 7, with final design work being completed for the VMC station itself, overtop of the TYSSE concourse for the subway.

At an earlier stage, but already demanding dedicated project teams, is the Yonge Street rapidways in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, and the rapidways that will be built along this major commuter line.

And because a rapid transit network needs more than new lanes, stations and streetscaping, we’ve also got a number of dedicated facilities to plan and build, which will provide the future vivaNext system with more capacity for passengers, bus maintenance, and commuter parking.  All of those components are currently under active development, requiring the involvement of project teams with property, design, engineering and financial expertise.  Our currently funded projects add up to a total program value of $3.2 billion, which will see us build 37 km of bus rapidways with 38 stations, an 8.6 km subway extension with six stations, an operations facilities, two bus terminals and multiple park ‘n ride facilities over the next five years in York Region.

Last but definitely not least, lots of activity is underway to secure funding for future segments starting with the extension to the Yonge Subway, which is the missing link needed to fully connect the vivaNext system to the broader GTHA transit network.

Everyone at YRRTC works on multiple projects, which allows us to share our knowledge across the program, identify what’s worked well in the past, and ensure that we build on success.   Collectively we’ve already amassed a lot of expertise, making design and construction refinements to future projects that reflect what we’ve learned so far.

We all work hard, but the enthusiasm we pick up from the community is so motivating, it’s hard to imagine doing anything more satisfying.  We know that with just a few kilometers of rapidway open along the Highway 7 East rapidway, transit travel times have already been reduced and traffic flows improved.  So we’re all looking forward to the major improvements that we’ll all get to enjoy, when the whole system is open in a few years from now.

Stay tuned for regular updates throughout 2014, it promises to be a significant year for transit.

 

changes in how you contact vivaNext

Friday, December 27th, 2013

As of January 4, 2014, the extension numbers will be changing from four to five digits.

Don’t worry it’s not as cumbersome as it sounds, the only difference will be adding a “7” in front of all current four-digit extensions for all internal phone lines.  This change also applies to all York Region services identified below:

  • Court Services
  • Emergency Medical Services (in case of emergency, please dial 911)
  • Family and Children’s Services
  • Housing
  • Long-term Care
  • Economic Development
  • Police Services
  • Public Health
  • Regional roads
  • Social Assistance
  • Solid Waste Management
  • YRT/Viva
  • Water and sewage treatment

 

spending quality time with your loved ones

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

This holiday season we hope you have the opportunity to gather together, to share, reflect and renew the love and laughter that makes quality time with family and friends precious and meaningful.  York Region has a lot of great sites and events that you can explore on YRT\Viva transit lines over the holidays, from skating at the Markham Civic Centre outdoor rink, First Night Celebration in the Town of Richmond Hill, to the Winter Wonderland at the Riverwalk Commons in Newmarket.

Here at vivaNext, we are also taking this time to rest, relax and rejuvenate so come January we will be ready to jump into work.  The New Year will bring with it the continuation of construction on Davis Drive in Newmarket with road widening, utility relocation and paving.  The Highway 7 transformation in the City of Markham is continuing with utility relocation, boulevard streetscaping and paving. Work will also ramp up on the west side of Highway 7 into The City of Vaughan with retaining wall construction and utility relocations. And on Yonge Street in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, preparation for construction will start to take place.

Until then, please enjoy the season with those near and dear.  See you in the New Year.

as the cold wind blows…

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Seems like just yesterday vivaNext was ramping up construction activities at the first sign of warmer temperatures and while the warmer weather was here this year, a lot of progress was made along the vivaNext corridors. We captured our developments and put together a short video to share the progress of the transformation for each corridor.

Building on our successes, we will keep the progress moving even as we wind down for the return of Old Man Winter. Although the weather specialists forecast a cold winter season, our vivaNext construction projects will continue as the snow flies and the cold wind blows.  Here’s a snapshot of what we’re going to be working on this winter along the vivaNext corridors and how we’ll manage to keep construction moving along even when the temperatures plunge.

In Newmarket, crews will continue storm sewer installation, utility relocations and underground ductbank [gathers together and encases telecommunication wires] installation along Davis Drive. The south side of western creek culvert near Niagara Street will be also be widened over the next several months.

In Markham, utility relocations will continue on South Town Centre Boulevard, Cedarland Drive and Warden Avenue. Some construction work will also continue on Highway 7 East in the centre median.

Along the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] corridor, hydro, gas and telecommunications installations and relocations will continue. Work will also begin on the CN Bridge. Preliminary construction activity also continues in Vaughan along Highway 7 West from Helen Street to Edgeley Boulevard and from east of Bowes Road to Yonge Street, including parts of Bathurst Street and Centre Street.

On Yonge Street, surveying, geotechnical testing and utility locates will take place in Richmond Hill and Newmarket. In early 2014, the design-build contract of the Yonge Street rapidway will be awarded. Once the contract is awarded, rapidway construction will begin.

While construction continues outside, inside our contractors are preparing for a busy spring. They are finalizing designs, plans and schedules for next year so when the warm weather returns construction crews can hit the ground running.

To see the progress we’re making over the winter, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also sign up for email notices at vivanext.com to keep you updated on the construction underway in your area.