Posts Tagged ‘York Region’

navigating the rapidways

Friday, June 10th, 2016

click here to see the video -- rapidway intersections: safe journeys

Safety on the rapidway is everyone’s responsibility, and at vivaNext, we take it seriously. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look at an important topic in a light hearted way. You’ll need to watch our latest safety video to fully understand what we mean, but one thing is certain: you’ll be able to relate to one of our four travellers as they navigate our roads with Viva rapidways.

Motorist Molly, for example, needs to get to her mid-block destination, but gets stuck waiting for a left turn signal. What could be causing the problem?

Cyclist Cedric also has a turning concern while on the move. When travelling on dedicated bike lanes, making a left turn can be tricky business. Must he merge into dangerous traffic to get to the left turn traffic lane? Or is there an easier way?

Pedestrian Percy and his grandfather need to be fully aware of their surroundings when crossing the street, whether it’s to the vivastation in the centre lanes, or continuing to the other side.

However you get around, it’s important to understand what everyone else is doing to make sure your journey is a safe one. Watch the video, get to know the new surroundings, and take care when you’re travelling. Davis Drive and Highway 7 now have new ways to navigate, and there’s more to come!

 

building in place >> the best of both worlds

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

building in place >> the best of both worlds

Earlier this month, the Province of Ontario proposed changes to the four provincial plans that shape how land is used in the Greater Golden Horseshoe: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. They’re gathering feedback from the public on all their recommended changes to help protect green spaces and farmland.

One of the key changes proposed is an increase in the minimum Intensification Rate from 40% to 60%, to encourage growth in central areas and reduce suburban sprawl. “Intensification” may sound unfriendly but really it’s just re-using space that we already have. We’ve been building on land in York Region for many decades and our population continues to grow, so when a building comes to the end of its life, there’s a good chance the next building on that land will need to serve more people – whether for housing, business or entertainment.

For example, if a one-level plaza has 10 businesses, when it’s time to rebuild it might be replaced with a five-story building with 15 retail and restaurants on the ground level and 15 apartments above. Because there are more business and residential units than there were before, this contributes to an increased Intensification Rate in the area.

By building in place, adding five business units and 15 residential units to this property instead of building 10-20 detached subdivision houses elsewhere, an acre of green space could be saved. If this new development hosts 80 or more residents and jobs per hectare [2.5 acres], then it also helps support frequent transit service [like a Viva rapidway!].

One proposed change from the Province is to require zoning along transit corridors that supports a higher population and walkable communities. This is important to keep the relationship between people and transit on track. Transit systems need lots of people to jump on board, and people living in downtown areas need the option of transit.

By continuing to build in place, our biggest towns and cities will have everything on their doorstep, and green space nearby. Doesn’t that sound like the best of both worlds?

 

New book on ‘complete streets’ highlights the Highway 7 East vivaNext project

Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

New book on ‘complete streets’ highlights the Highway 7 East vivaNext project

The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation [TCAT] has recently published a book on street-transformation projects, called: Complete Street Transformations in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. One of the projects they featured is the vivaNext rapidway on Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill!

The book includes nine different street-transformation projects from southern Ontario that, according to TCAT, “involved redesigning streets to make more space for one or more of pedestrians, cyclists, or transit riders.”

They also present outputs and outcomes of each project. For the Highway 7 East project, they comment on the safety improvement brought by the transformation, the increase in pedestrians and have included a cyclist and pedestrian count in one segment of the street. And, of course, they also note the improvement in transit travel times, with the BRT shortening the average transit rider’s commute by over 30%.

The most recent edition of Novae Res Urbis (GTA), the urban planning magazine, promoted Complete Street Transformations and said this about the vivaNext project:

“By far the most ambitious project highlighted in the book was the $308-million transformation of Highway 7 East in the City of Markham and Town of Richmond Hill. The former provincial highway was transformed into a multi-modal transportation corridor with bicycle lanes and a dedicated transitway. The result was a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users in the corridor, as well as a 64 per cent reduction in collisions.”

You can download a copy of the book here. The good stuff about the Highway 7 East project starts on Page 11!

Questions or comments? Comment below or email us at contactus@vivanext.com. To stay up-to-date on construction, sign up for email updates at vivanext.com/subscribe.

 

sowing the seeds on Davis Drive

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

sowing the seeds on Davis Drive

Trees are coming to Davis Drive! Crews are out making their way along the rapidway medians planting trees, shrubs and perennials to create a more attractive, welcoming streetscape. We hope to see buds and shoots blooming all around us in the coming weeks.

To give them the best chance for survival, we carefully choose the species of trees and plants, and plant them in a special planting mix developed by the Region’s Forestry Department, rooted in special soil cells. Even with this great care, nature is unpredictable and sometimes a few don’t make it through the winter. In this case our contractor replaces them under the two-year warranty we have for all of our trees, shrubs and plants. Trees and other green spaces have been shown in studies to have health benefits, build prosperity and increase safety, so they’re an important addition to streets in York Region.

The vivaNext project delivers more than just great transit. With all the plantings on Davis Drive it also reinforces York Region’s Greening Strategy as part of great community design. The strategy promotes actions that support healthy natural environments, and it plants the seeds of inspiration for cultivating sustainable communities.

#ThanksDavisDr!

Keeping with the green theme, May 7 was the Town of Newmarket’s Community Cleanup & Fun Day, and it was a stellar community event! People from all over Newmarket gathered together to pick up garbage and brighten their community by getting involved and getting their hands dirty [gloves were provided!].

We were there to do our part, participating in the morning cleanup and crushing icy snocones for everyone to enjoy. It was our opportunity to say thank you to the people of Newmarket for all their patience, understanding and feedback during construction.

There’s just a little bit left to do before we can call it done, and have a rapid transit system we can all be proud of. Thanks Davis Drive!

 

connecting Vaughan – east and west

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

connecting Vaughan – east and west

We’re building rapid transit in York Region – Bus Rapid Transit and subways – to connect York Region residents and commuters from north and south, east and west. Markham and Newmarket both have east-west rapidway connections, and next it’s Vaughan’s turn. From Yonge Street to Helen Street west of Highway 400, the new vivaNext rapidways will connect travellers with fast, convenient Bus Rapid Transit.

Vaughan Metropolitan Centre [VMC] is a hub of activity and the rapidway project is moving ahead quickly to open between Jane Street and Bowes Road by the end of 2016. Along the rapidway, Viva will stop at vivastations at Creditstone Road and Keele Street. Once the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension [TYSSE] opens in December 2017, Viva riders will also be able to connect at a vivastation west of Jane with direct access to the new subway station below, and a YRT bus terminal a short walk away. To see an overview of the project, check out our latest video.

This spring, construction begins on rapidways that will link vibrant communities in the east and west of Vaughan to the transportation options and development in the VMC, and to the rest of York Region.  We know it helps to be aware of what’s happening and when, so we promise to keep you informed and up-to-date along the way. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to email updates for vivaNext projects, and follow us on Twitter.

the murky world of underground infrastructure

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

the murky world of underground infrastructure

Property ownership and development are generally straightforward concepts: people or businesses own land, including any assets that are built on that land, and only they can decide when and if any improvements are to be made.

But what happens when the property is located underground, and the improvements are being made by someone other than the property owner? Welcome to the murky and confusing world of underground infrastructure, where ownership and decision-making are much more complex than above ground.

Underground infrastructure, which includes gas and power lines, telecommunications, watermains and sewers, is always owned by either a private company or the municipality. But generally utilities are located under roads or sidewalks, or on private property; utility companies typically do not own the land where their utilities are located.

In most cases underground infrastructure is located in the “public right-of-way”, including roads, sidewalks and boulevards. If a utility company wants to make a change to their own infrastructure, such as making a repair or increasing capacity, they need to get municipal approval before any work can be done. This “municipal consent” process is set out in legislation, and ensures municipalities can control and coordinate utility work on public lands or roads. This is critical, especially when utility work requires road closures or detours or will have some other impact on the public.

Municipalities also can set restrictions on when and how utilities can access their own infrastructure, to minimize impacts on the public and protect the municipality’s own infrastructure. For example, a municipality might impose a moratorium on changes to private infrastructure on newly built or repaired streets, so that new asphalt isn’t dug up.

In all cases, our projects spend a lot of time coordinating with utility companies to resolve any conflicts between the rapidway and streetscape elements we’re building, and the multiple utilities using the same space. In many cases, utilities can co-locate, for example telecommunications may share a common duct bank, and be buried next to hydro. Designs for all relocated utilities have to work with our vivaNext design, and in some cases where space is limited, working through the design process to fit in all the elements can be extremely challenging. Municipalities also have views on where they want elements located; the Region avoids locating utilities in their roadway, whereas local municipalities prefer to keep utilities away from the planters.

Once the design is established, a schedule is worked out with the Region or municipalities, specifying how long the utility work will take. Utilities are given a specified amount of time to close lanes as part of the final permit; even if the work is next to the road, lanes often need to be closed to give workers room to work safely. Our design-builders will coordinate construction work with the utility relocations, since only one activity can be carried out at a time in any given place.

The last but very important part of this complicated process is reducing the disruption for nearby residents and businesses. Once the design and municipal consent is complete, the utility and vivaNext community liaison team work with property owners to discuss access to properties while work is underway.

A lot of moving parts need to be coordinated and resolved before any underground infrastructure gets moved, but our teams are committed to coordinating these efforts with everyone’s best interests in mind.

 

 

green space = safe space

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

green space = safe space

We’ve seen reports that support why having greenery around us can increase prosperity, improve health, and now new research says it makes the surrounding area safer.

It’s not so much the trees and shrubs themselves that keep people safe. Having an attractive space attracts people to spend time in the area – and puts more ‘eyes on the streets.’ And green space that appears cared for lets everyone know that someone owns, uses and maintains it. In the case of streets, it’s a sense of community ownership.

Well-maintained green spaces are thought to give an abstract sense of social order, and according to a community greenery experiment in Youngstown, Ohio, the safety and order extends to the surrounding area. There are all types of crime, and you can’t always predict where it will happen, but the pride of place on display with a nice park or streetscape seems to bring about positive behavior.

It’s exciting to see the trees along the Highway 7 East rapidway growing another season of new leaves, and people out enjoying the spring weather on the new sidewalks. We’re looking forward to planting trees this year on Davis Drive in Newmarket and on Highway 7 West in Vaughan.

So trees aren’t just trees. They, and their team of shrubs and grasses encourage health and wealth, and they fight crime in their spare time.

 

warranty work >> ensuring quality for years to come

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

warranty work >> ensuring quality for years to come

When you’re building rapidways for generations to enjoy, it’s important to make sure that the end product is what we want.

Everything – from the paving stones on the sidewalk, to the glass in the canopies, to the red asphalt – is tested, inspected and verified by qualified engineers with a keen eye for detail. Anything that doesn’t make the grade is placed on a “deficiencies list” that the builder is responsible to remedy. That’s why you may see occasional construction activity in the first couple of years after infrastructure projects are done.

Project managers of infrastructure projects call this the warranty work phase – an opportunity to catch any issues so that they can be fixed while the infrastructure is still under warranty. It often takes all the seasons in a full year to see how things weather in our climate or perform once in use.

Much like when you buy a new house, it can take one or two years for the foundations to settle, and for you to make note of where the finishes are less than desirable. Then the contractor comes back to fix all the nail pops and cracks in the drywall, fill any gaps in the molding and repaint where necessary. It ensures that you are happy with the work, and you get the most out of your home. Warranty work is the same idea for our facilities, stations and rapidways.

On Davis Drive, we’re starting with the grinding and smoothing out of curbs, fixing paint finishes and filling small cracks, and of course taking note of anything else that needs work.

Whether you’re a regular transit rider, or are considering your first trip on the rapidway, know that we are working hard to provide you with a quality experience and infrastructure that’s built to last.

 

rapidways >> who goes there?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

rapidways >> who goes there?

We have rapidways open on Highway 7 East, and on Davis Drive, and most people who live and work near these new rapid transit routes know who has access to the rapidways – buses! In fact, the rapidways are paved in red and painted with “bus only” to prevent others from accidentally entering the lanes.

There are a few others who are allowed to drive in the rapidway lanes. Ambulances, fire engines and police cruisers are permitted in an emergency to get past traffic quickly and safely. This is an added benefit that the rapidways bring to each community – saving valuable time when it’s truly needed.

Vehicles such as snow plows and street cleaners maintain the rapidways as needed. Maintenance and security staff from YRT/Viva operations and their contractor, TOK Transit, also access the rapidway stations and their marked vehicles may be seen at the far end of a station platform. This part of the platform is ramped on one side for their use – but this ramp should never be used by regular traffic to cross the rapidway.

Pedestrians and cyclists have access to any vivastation via the traffic signals and crosswalk, but should never jaywalk or cycle across or along rapidway lanes. To do this is risky because it’s unexpected and distracting to both Viva operators and drivers in regular traffic. And although we fully support active and alternative modes of travel, you also can’t travel the rapidway lanes in a scooter or wheelchair, skateboard, motorcycle, hoverboard, segway, golf cart, unicycle… or any other interesting mode of transportation we haven’t thought of yet!

You may wonder why Viva buses use the rapidways, but YRT buses don’t. The reason is that YRT buses either need to turn on and off the road frequently to gather customers, or their purpose is different – e.g., more stops, turning into shopping plazas, etc. Viva and YRT routes are evaluated by YRT/Viva’s Service Planning branch on a regular basis, and service changes are made to routes and schedules as needed.

A street that includes a rapidway is a complete street, with space for doing everything in a safe and efficient way.  Hope you get out and enjoy our streets this spring!

 

a touch of nature…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

a touch of nature…

…makes the whole world kin. At least that’s what Shakespeare wrote. Everyone wants to help out the environment, even just a little. And the key to making that happen is to weave it into what you do. At vivaNext, we do what we can to help out by incorporating environmental and sustainable standards into what we do.

saving…

When we built a transit facility in Richmond Hill, more than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills by recycling. This equals about 582 tonnes, or enough to fill 32 city buses. The facility was built to LEED Silver standards, and includes a rainwater recycling system for the bus wash, which saves about 5.5 million litres each year. When we build rapidways, the old asphalt is taken to local recycling centres, saving valuable construction material for re-use.

planting…

Every rapidway project includes tree-lined sidewalks with special under-sidewalk root systems and tree and shrub species chosen to best suit their location. Including greenery in our communities has important side benefits, including improved health for residents, increased property values, better business outcomes, and reduced energy costs. Each project is unique, and where there are creeks and culverts, our work includes natural restoration, which creates better conditions for wildlife and aquatic species. For a peek at how we connect with nature, check out our video.

building!

And don’t forget the most important thing we’re doing – building rapid transit! Adding sustainable travel choices to our landscape is the most important thing we can do to help our communities thrive. Each bus can replace up to 70 cars and during peak hours along rapidway routes, can be up to 42% faster and certainly reduces emissions. Having fast, reliable transit within walking distance helps support the growth coming to our downtowns in Markham, Newmarket, Vaughan and Richmond Hill – and this central growth helps prevent suburban sprawl.

We’re doing what we can to help the environment and making it part of what we do. Earth Hour is 8:30-9:30pm this Saturday, and we’ll do that little bit extra by powering down and we hope you will too.