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Highway 7 East rapidway construction:
Project winding down



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Metrolinx and York Region contractors are winding up work on the project to build a rapidway — bus-only lanes in the centre of the roadway — along Highway 7 East in Markham and Richmond Hill.


For more than four years, crews have been transforming Highway 7 East, installing new sidewalks, bike lanes, left-turn signals, water mains and — most important — the first six kilometres of rapidway between Warden and Bayview Avenues.

Now that the project is winding down, vivaNext, the group that’s administering the project, has sent us a report outlining its accomplishments and various highlights of the project.

According to vivaNext, the rapidway provides passengers with faster trips and more consistent travel times. Comparing September 2013 to September 2014, the average rush-hour travel time has dropped 35 percent between Highway 404 and Bayview. Public feedback has been very positive and ridership has increased 10 percent between South Town Centre Boulevard and Bayview.

Vivanext says its commitment to innovation extends to every aspect of how it designs and implements its rapid-transit and infrastructure projects. Working with internationally renowned design, engineering and construction firms, it says that it “learned from the best and applied their knowledge of innovations from around the world to projects in York Region”.

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Designing and building the rapidway under Highway 404, however, challenged the designers since the overpass restricted space under the bridge. The rapidway design team had to work with just one extra travel lane for Viva, instead of two lanes along the rest of the rapidway. Crews installed a special transit signal to direct Viva drivers when to proceed safely along the single lane rapidway. The “queue-jump lane” allows both east- and westbound buses to take turns using this narrow section of the rapidway.

This summer, crews will apply a top-coat of pavement to traffic lanes, and red pavement to the rapidway, plant trees and shrubs and complete the sidewalks will on South Town Centre Boulevard, Cedarland Drive and Clegg Road. VivaNext expects to extend the rapidway slightly further east to Unionville GO Station by 2021. Future plans to build eastward along Highway 7 to Reesor Road depend on more funding commitments from governments.

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With a total value of $3.2 billion, Metrolinx and York have funded several vivaNext projects to deliver 34 kilometres of rapidways with 36 stations, an 8.6-kilometre subway extension with six stations, an operations facility, two bus terminals and multiple park-and-ride facilities over the next five years.

The vivaNext projects are an important part of York Region’s Centres and Corridors strategy, which concentrates growth and development in key areas, and strengthens the central areas of Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Vaughan.

The strategy encourages new development around vivastations to be compact and mixed-use, providing housing, employment, retail, dining, services and recreation, all within walking distance of transit. Developments will also include more welcoming public spaces, attractive landscaping and other amenities. This helps make these downtown centres into more dynamic destinations — and complete communities that are ideal places to live.

VivaNext is also helping to transform York Region’s major corridors through the urban design and the “complete street”, a transportation planning concept. The concept originates in Europe, where complete streets anticipate and accommodate the needs of all users, while providing a friendly and comfortable environment.

York Region has recreational parks and green spaces that enhance the beauty of our towns and cities. The vivaNext projects continue to enrich and “green” the neighbourhoods they serve. In Richmond Hill and Markham, crews are planting about 1,250 trees and 4,910 perennials and grasses along Highway 7 East.

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During Highway 7 rapidway construction, expect delays for:

  • TTC buses operating along the 24 Victoria Park, 68 Warden and 224 Victoria Park North routes; and
  • YRT buses operating along the Viva green, Viva pink, Viva purple, 1 Highway 7, 224B Woodbine, 300 Business express and 302 Unionville express routes.

YRT continues to detour buses operating along the 302 Unionville express route, during ongoing construction on South Town Centre Boulevard and Cedarland Drive.


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