Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

countdown to handover

Monday, August 11th, 2014

countdown to handover

Taking advantage of every sunny day to advance the work on the Highway 7 rapidway in Markham, our teams are working hard to finish all sorts of little details. With much of the construction complete, we’re now focused on the final stages of construction and testing, and then getting ready for handover, when the system is officially turned over to York Region and YRT, the system owners and operators.

Handover means just what it says – it’s the moment in time when the transit system is handed over to the owner for care and custody. From that time forward, the system – which until then has been the responsibility of the Contractor/Design Builder – becomes the private property of the owner.

Because the formal handover is such a significant development, especially on a major infrastructure project like the vivaNext rapidway, it’s important to ensure everything is in perfect working order. The various steps involved in commissioning, which is the testing period that takes place before handover, vary depending on what is being handed over. For example, with the fare equipment, we make sure the ticket vending machine [TVM] prints properly. With the traffic signals, once they’re programmed the permanent signals are turned on and each phase is tested individually, and all the push buttons are tested to make sure they work.

Streetlights are inspected to ensure all the wiring is according to the drawings; that the bases are level, and the power connections are all correct. The teams go out at night to actually turn on the lights, to ensure all the lamps come on and nothing is flickering. Lighting is an important safety feature for both pedestrians and vehicles.

Every single detail is inspected through a visual walk-down. Then a list of the things that still need to be finished or perfected is created with items graded from most serious to least serious. These items will be fixed either prior to the system opening or post opening under the warranty.

Once handover takes place, legal ownership and responsibility is transferred to the owner, and the Contractor/Design Builder’s warranty period begins, just the way it happens when a homebuyer takes possession of a new house.

Handover in this case means some elements of the rapidway, like the rapidway, stations, boulevards and planters, are transferred to the Region. Others, like the sidewalks and streetlights are transferred to the local municipality to maintain.

Ultimately, vivaNext wants to provide a reliable, efficient rapid transit system and beautiful streetscape. Because, at the end of the day, the ultimate owners are the public of York Region and with every new piece of rapidway delivered, it makes it a better system that we all can be proud of.

testing, testing, testing

Friday, August 8th, 2014

testing, testing, testing

As you will know from driving along Highway 7 East from Highway 404 to Warden, our rapidway construction is really coming along, and this summer another segment will be going into operation. We still have a bit more work ahead of us before service operation can begin, including some work which will be obvious, such as final paving, striping and landscaping. But in addition to that, we’re just getting underway on a less-obvious but highly important part of the job, which is testing – to ensure that all parts of the rapidway project are ready for active service.

This stage – known in the construction world as commissioning – is critically important and planning for commissioning the new section of Highway 7 East rapidway has already been in progress.

So what does commissioning involve, and how do we do it?

First of all, the technical definition of commissioning is: the process of assuring that all systems and components of a system are designed, installed and tested according to the operational requirements that have been established.

In the case of vivaNext, the most visible components of the project include the new roadways, passenger stations and amenities, and streetscape elements such as lighting, sidewalks and landscaping. Ongoing inspections are being done as construction progresses to ensure that these are being built to certain specifications, before they are handed over for use by Viva. Commissioning is a detailed focus on the key systems and components that together make up the overall network.

These components include the fare collection equipment; the station information systems such as the variable message signs, clocks and Public Address systems; passenger security elements such as closed circuit TV systems and emergency call buttons; and the traffic signals at intersections. It also includes the sophisticated Transit Vehicle Detection system, which will provide information to the traffic signals when rapid transit vehicles are approaching intersections, as well as the overall communications system and fibre optic network that links all of these components.

Testing starts at the factory, where the fabricator verifies that the equipment works as it was intended to, and then each component is tested again once it’s installed. Once all the components are installed and each one is confirmed to be working as designed, a series of additional tests are carried out to confirm that the entire system is integrated properly and working together. Don’t forget we have to connect up to the section already open and make sure everything continues to run smoothly.

The final step involves testing the reliability and function of the extended system, including simulating actual operation using buses and staff acting as passengers. This gives the people who will be involved in the future operation, maintenance and service of the rapidway an opportunity to become familiar with the new section.

So you can see that there’s still a lot of work behind the scenes to get to the day we’re all looking forward to – when the Viva bus extends its journey the length of the new rapidway from Bayview Avenue to South Town Centre Boulevard in late August.

turning on the lights

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

turning on the lights

Street lights are one of those infrastructure elements that the public may not give a lot of thought to, but in truth their design contributes significantly to the overall streetscape. And because the vivaNext project is being used to transform Highway 7 East from a highway to an urban corridor, all the design components, including the street lights, have been given a lot of thought. But before design considerations can be focused on, safety is the first priority to be achieved with street lighting. VivaNext works with York Region, the local Municipality and the utility companies to develop lighting designs, coordinate and install the lights. Here’s an overview of the role lighting plays in the vivaNext vision, and the street lighting elements you will see installed on all the rapidway corridors.

Designing street lighting, like all the major elements in the vivaNext project, focuses on achieving a combination of practical and design objectives. Lighting is first and foremost a public safety consideration. There are strict national and local standards on how street lighting is designed, including how much lighting is required for different conditions. For example, different measures are used to determine the lighting levels for roadways compared to intersections and sidewalks. Once the levels are known, lighting designers develop a design, which includes variables such as pole height, spacing and “lux,” which is the amount of light to be provided by the fixture.

Once the lighting design is done, streetscape design objectives can come into play in order to marry the technical requirements with the architectural priorities needed to achieve the desired streetscape “look.” In the case of vivaNext, the streetscape objectives are for a modern, stylish and uncluttered look that will contribute to the corridors feeling like urban destinations, and make them distinctive from other Regional roadways.

To achieve all these safety requirements and design objectives, we have selected a special street light pole and luminaire [the light head or fixture], and arm that holds the luminaire, to be used along the Highway 7 rapidway segments. The poles will be a little higher than the ones they’ve replaced [9.9 metres high versus 8.0 metres], and they’re made of metal with a dark grey powder-coat finish for long-wear and less maintenance. Unlike most poles which are octagonal shaped and tapered to the top, these are round and cylindrical for a sleeker, more modern look. And the lighting head or luminaire on top was chosen to complement the sleek, modern look of our canopies.

The street lights also have a photo sensor to automatically turn on and off when it’s dark. And the bulbs – which are little larger than the light bulbs you have in your home – only need to be replaced every 4 years.

So next time you’re sitting at a stop light or at a bus stop and you’re looking at the beautiful new streetscape, you’ll know more about all the decisions that were needed to turn on the lights! Enjoy!!

bringing the vivaNext long-term plan for the future to life

Monday, August 4th, 2014

video - Highway 7 East: summer update 2014

With crews working on the finishing touches on the eastern half of the Highway 7 rapidway, we’re getting closer to the completion of this rapid transit corridor. As much as we’re looking forward to celebrating this milestone, it’s only one [very exciting] step in a long path that started years ago.

There’s a lot of media coverage these days, of transit needs all across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area [GTHA], and we’re proud that York Region is actively working to bring rapid transit to our region. In 2002, the Region produced the York Region Transportation Master Plan and the follow-up Rapid Transit Plan, committing the Region to a blueprint of multiple transportation initiatives to be built over the next 30 years.

With approval to the Rapid Transit Plan, we got to work and in 2005 the Viva team launched “QuickStart,” the first phase of Viva service. Viva offered enhanced features that made transit more comfortable and convenient, and put the customer first. With ridership levels increasing steadily, Viva changed the way people in York Region thought of transit and there was appreciation for the higher level of services with enhanced features and frequencies.

But while our new Viva service was a major success and an important first step in encouraging people to try transit, designing the vivaNext rapid transit system was the Region’s long-term vision. Ontario municipalities are mandated to plan sustainable, more intensive land-use as part of the provincial government policy, and rapid transit is a key component in achieving that goal. Anticipating this, the Transportation Master Plan directed that future growth in York Region would be concentrated in new downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan. By building more intensively in these areas, there would be less pressure for growth in existing neighbourhoods.

These urban centres would be connected by transportation “corridors,” making it easier for people to get around the region and providing transportation options, such as regular transit service. The vivaNext rapidways are being built along the corridors, providing these connections across York Region and into the rest of the GTHA.

Much of the new development being built around vivastations is compact and mixed-use, providing housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation, all within walking distance of transit. Developments include more welcoming public spaces, attractive landscaping, and other amenities that contribute to the centres becoming more dynamic destinations.

The plan is well and truly underway, and rapidways are being built on Highway 7 in both the east and west, as well as in Newmarket. The Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension is under construction, and the designs for rapidways on Yonge Street are being finalized. Great new developments are popping up all over the new urban centres across the Region.

So when the next segment of rapidway on Highway 7 East starts service this summer, we can all celebrate the implementation of the first phase of our transportation and growth management blueprint, not to mention the end of construction! Check out the new video highlighting the Highway 7 East segment.

check out the Keith Bridge progress

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

video - Davis Drive: Keith Bridge progress

It’s an exciting time for Newmarket as significant components of the Davis Drive rapidway project are beginning to take shape. Along with road widening and paving, construction of the first vivastation is underway at Parkside/Longford and Davis. As part of the vivaNext rapidway project on Davis Drive, the Keith Bridge is being completely reconstructed. Construction of the north side of the bridge is coming along and recently, the new bridge deck was poured with concrete. We’re excited to have captured part of the transformation!

The deck pour was originally scheduled to be a lengthy 16 hour operation, but to speed up the process our diligent crews brought in additional machines and completed the job in 8 hours – half the time. The pour was completed overnight, with crews working quickly and efficiently to minimize disruption to residents. Over 70 truckloads of concrete were pumped steadily into the form work of the bridge [similar to a mold]. Using what’s called a screed machine, the concrete was leveled out and smoothed to create a flat surface. Because the screed machine didn’t reach the outer edges of the bridge, workers expertly finished off the edges with hand trowels. Finally burlap and tarps were used to cover the poured concrete as part of the curing process. They were removed once the concrete set.

The bridge is on track to be completed by late 2014, and when finished it will include architectural features such as replica period light fixtures and poles, and decorative concrete railings that reflect Newmarket’s heritage. Check out the bridge pour video for yourself – after all, it’s not every day over 70 truckloads of concrete are poured in one continuous operation. Watch for more big moves as the transformation continues to unfold on Davis Drive!

 

come say hello at the Newmarket Jazz Festival

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

come say hello at the Newmarket Jazz Festival

Another long weekend is upon us and there’s no better way to spend it than with family and friends. If you’re still looking for last minute weekend plans, look no further than the 2014 Newmarket Jazz Festival!

From Friday, August 1st to Monday, August 4th enjoy the sweet sounds of jazz at Riverwalk Commons, Newmarket’s Heritage Main Street & Fairy Lake [Map]. The Newmarket Jazz Festival proudly supports Herbert Carnegie’s Future Aces Organization – opening doors for creative youth in our Region.

For $5 per day [kids under 12 are free], experience live musical entertainment, various art performers, fabulous foods, shopping, vendor exhibits, a creative kids zone and much more. With free shuttle buses running Saturday through Monday every 20 minutes from 404/Leslie and the Upper Canada Mall, getting to and from the event will be hassle free. For ticket information, daily schedules and details on featured entertainers, visit the festival’s main website.

On August 2, 3 and 4 the vivaNext team will be on site at the festival to provide you with updates on all of our rapidway projects. The summer is our busiest season so we have lots to talk about. Stop by our booth to say hello, ask questions and try your luck on a summer scratch n’ win card – we’ve already had one winner so you could be next! Check out our summer contest page to find out about other ways to win.

On behalf of the vivaNext team we wish you all a happy and safe long weekend!

 

then, now & next: Newmarket’s moments in time

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

then, now & next: Newmarket’s moments in time

Take a moment to travel back in time with vivaNext as we explore the past, present and future of the rapidway corridors. Over the next month, we’ll be digging into photo archives to explore each community’s unique heritage and showing you how the vivaNext projects will be part of this history.

First up is the charming Town of Newmarket! It became an official town in 1880 with a population of 2,000. Today, the town has 84,000 residents and continues to grow. It boasts small town charm, but has all the conveniences of a big city. Several historical pieces of architecture still remain in Newmarket today, and as part of the Davis Drive rapidway project, we are preserving these important pieces of culture that contribute to the Town’s character.

The Union Hotel was built on the northeast corner of Davis Drive and Main Street. The two-storey brick structure was designed by local architect John Ough and still has many of its original features. Past owners include James Burke, a soda water manufacturer, and Patrick Hodgins Sr. whose family used it as a store and residence. To allow for the widening necessary to accommodate the vivaNext rapidway, the Union Hotel and neighbouring two-storey concrete block building are being set back on the same property, to preserve them as a gateway to historical Main Street.

The Keith Bridge is also being reconstructed as part of the vivaNext rapidway project. Newmarket’s rich architectural and transportation heritage was the inspiration for the design of the new Keith Bridge. When finished in 2014, the reconstructed Keith Bridge will feature several historic design elements including replica period light fixtures and poles, and decorative concrete railings. Heritage lighting will accent the bridge and architectural detailing will retain a historical flavour.

Once complete, the Davis Drive rapidway will help to support successful urban revitalization by encouraging the development of attractive and pedestrian-friendly places for people to live, work, shop and play. Watch Newmarket’s then, now & next story and stay tuned to our YouTube channel for more videos on Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and Markham!

 

hug a tree

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Maybe it’s time to rethink the age-old saying “money doesn’t grow on trees.” According to a new report from TD Economics, Toronto’s dense, urban forests are providing more than $80-million of savings and environmental benefits every year. The report looks at Toronto’s urban forest of 10-million trees from an economic perspective, calculating the value each tree provides by saving energy, keeping rain and snow off the streets, and absorbing pollution. Even with maintenance costs factored in, the city’s trees are returning between $1.35 and $3.20 for every dollar spent.

Although the report focuses specifically on Toronto, the value in planting and maintaining trees can be attributed to any city in which you live. In fact, benefits can have more than just monetary value. Beautification, green space for recreation and importance to the residents are benefits that are difficult to calculate or define, yet still contribute to the landscape of a thriving community. The report also found that a mature tree canopy adds significantly to property values, adding yet another layer of economic benefit.

York Region already has plenty of recreational parks and green spaces that enhance the beauty of its towns and cities. The vivaNext projects will further enrich these communities by ensuring plant installation and growth well into the future. In Richmond Hill and Markham alone, approximately 292 trees and 4,910 perennials and grasses will be planted along the Highway 7 East corridor and boulevards.  Our challenge with new plantings is to get them to thrive in the first 2 years, but luckily all new plants and trees come with just that – a 2 year warranty! Further planting and new greenery will also be installed on BRT corridors in Vaughan, Newmarket, and Richmond Hill, once construction is complete. Details about the different types of trees and the selection process can be found in a previous posting.

Our hope is that the growth and maturity of the greenery reflects the prosperous growth of York Region over time. Especially during these warm summer months, get out and appreciate the beauty and colour that surrounds you. Hug a tree!

 

School’s done – summertime fun begins

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

School's done - summer time fun begins

Summer is an exciting and fun time for us on the vivaNext project. Warmer temperatures and longer days allow construction of our rapidway projects to get in high gear so they can be completed as quickly as possible. The official start of summer also means the end of the school year.

After the long cold winter that we had, the end of the school year is a chance for kids to get out and play by trading in their school bags and notebooks for swim suits, bikes and camping gear.

Warmer weather and no school mean kids and families are spending more time outside and on our streets. With that in mind, we would like to remind motorists to drive more carefully and with extra caution. It is up to us as drivers to make sure our kids stay safe and remember that kids often run out into the street without looking.

VivaNext wants you and your families to stay safe. We’ve all seen or maybe even done it – whether it’s rushing through a red light or a stop sign to save few extra minutes, forgetting to use traffic signals, overlooking construction detours and speed signs, or not using a hands-free cell phone device. With the heat, hustle and bustle of our busy schedules or fatigue, it’s often easy for drivers to forget or ignore the rules of the road.

During summer when school’s out, it’s even more important to re-think our habits behind the wheel. So, please slow down through construction zones and remember to be a careful driver by looking out for little ones, or better yet, leave the driving to our bus drivers and hop on viva for a more relaxed travel experience.

From our vivaNext family to yours, we wish you a safe and happy summer!

 

Transit focused Markham Centre picked for York U expansion

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Transit focused Markham Centre picked for York U expansion

York University, a globally recognized research centre, recently announced that it had chosen Markham Centre as the preferred location in its bid to build a new satellite campus in York Region. York Region is one of Ontario’s fastest-growing major urban areas, and with a current population of more than 1.1 million, is the only municipality of its size in North America with no university campus.

The City of Markham was selected based on its ability to demonstrate alignment with 10 core principals including, having a campus within an urban centre, easily accessible across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, transit oriented development, use of public infrastructure and strong local partners.

This achievement shows how York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, of which vivaNext is a key part, is already resulting in important economic development benefits for our region. It’s more proof that its long term, visionary planning framework will channel new jobs, housing and shopping within the newly urbanized centre in Markham.

As Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said in their news release, one of the reasons the Markham Centre location was chosen, in addition to all its “incredible amenities,” is that Markham has a reputation for having bold initiatives. The Mayor also pointed to the city’s efforts in attracting major businesses such as Enbridge, Honda and Aviva as well as attracting the Pan Am games to the city.

The timing of York University’s announcement could not have been better. Transit, parkland and local secondary plans are currently underway. The city can fully integrate a university within the new downtown urban fabric.

York Region’s vivaNext rapidway project along Highway 7 is in the last final stages with bus lanes set to open by the end of the year. Additional Bus Rapid Transit is planned for Markham Centre along Enterprise Drive to Unionville Go Terminal, scheduled to be completed in 2019, making this area truly the model of live, work, shop, play and now get educated!